RETIRED Gen Raheel Sharif, who heads the Saudi-led Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, calls on Prime Minister Imran Khan at PM Office on Tuesday.—White Star
RETIRED Gen Raheel Sharif, who heads the Saudi-led Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, calls on Prime Minister Imran Khan at PM Office on Tuesday.—White Star

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday underscored the need for cooperation among countries in the region for defeating violent extremism.

He was talking to the top commander of Saudi Arabia-based Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC), retired Gen Raheel Sharif, who is meeting Pakistani leaders ahead of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s two-day trip.

The crown prince’s visit, which starts on Feb 16, is likely to be dominated by massive investment pledges that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia intends to make here including the setting up of $10 billion oil refinery in Gwadar.

However, in return, sources say, Saudi Arabia is seeking Pakistan’s greater involvement in the 41-member antiterrorism coalition.

PM lauds Saudi-led coalition for its efforts to counter violent extremism

Pakistan has been part of the IMCTC right from its inception. The coalition was meant for security cooperation, including provision of training, equipment and troops, for fighting extremism. Sources say Saudis are not happy with the current level of Pakistan’s participation in the coalition.

The PMO said that PM Imran Khan and Gen Sharif during their meeting discussed “regional security environment and efforts for peace and stability” and the former praised the Saudi-led coalition “for its efforts towards countering violent extremism”.

Gen Sharif, who had on Monday met Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa, also called on Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at the Foreign Office.

Mr Qureshi told the IMCTC commander that the Pakistan government appreciated efforts of the coalition force to establish peace and stability in the region.

Gen Sharif briefed the foreign minister on various initiatives of the IMCTC for countering violent extremism.

He later met a group of senators along with Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani.

The group of senators from the upper house of parliament included Leader of the House Senator Shibli Faraz, Senators Dilawar Khan, Khanzada Khan, Mohammad Azam Khan Swati, Saleem Zia, Mohammad Javed Abbasi, Manzoor Ahmad Kakar, Mohammad Ahmad Khan and retired Lt Gen Abdul Qayyum.

Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani said on the occasion that terrorism had no place in any religion or belief and peaceful coexistence was the only way forward to achieve peace and make the world a better place to live. He said that Pakistan wanted a peaceful solution to all issues. He further emphasised on holding dialogue for resolving disputes.

Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2019

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