Islamabad:In a shift from his earlier statement, Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said on Wednesday former army chief General (retd.) Raheel Sharif did not seek the governments permission before joining the 39-country Saudi-led military alliance against terrorism.
"General (retd.) Raheel Sharif did not submit any application for a no-objection certificate (NOC). There's nothing in our notice," the Defence Minister said in response to Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani's request for a clarification on the matter.
If the former army chief applies for the NOC, it will be decided according to the law, said Asif, adding that General Sharif returned to the country after performing Umrah in Mecca.
In 2015, Saudi Arabia announced the formation of a 39-state Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism and Pakistan was made a member of the coalition. Riyadh and its Gulf Arab neighbours have been locked in months of warfare with Iran-allied rebels in neighbouring Yemen, launching hundreds of air strikes there.
Speaking to Geo TV last week, Asif confirmed that Raheel Sharif had been appointed the commander of the Saudi-led 39-nation military coalition to combat terrorism. The government was taken into confidence about the former army chief's new role, he added.
Inquiring if the government's permission was sought before the former army chief "accepted" the role, Rabbani asked Asif as to who confirmed his appointment and what the rules were for a retired military officer to take up such a position.