By: | Muhammad Ali Azlan |
November 29, 2016 the day Raheel Sharif decided to exit gracefully after serving as the Commanding Officer of the Armed Forces of Pakistan, shall be remembered throughout history for the “unusual circumstances” that proceeded and preceded his departure.
Raheel Shareef served as Pakistan’s COAS for 3 years (2014-16) in a much talked about tenure which had its fair share of supporters and detractors with the intellectual elite debating upon the mammoth task he had taken on hand some even claiming unfair use of power, by-passing the current Prime Minister of Pakistan Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.
The tenure was filled with its peaks and valleys where some expressed gratitude for the good the General did others called it an unfinished agenda after his exit from the offices of the GHQ. The detractors analyzed the tenure with words like “abuse of power”, “underhandedness”, “overhyped”, “superseding the government”, “coercion” and “biting more than can be chewed”. Rampant news of the civil and military establishments butting head over most issues were a mainstay.
More than a month after the chief’s departure his tenure remains a hot topic for discussion in weekly current affair programs, evident of his notoriety along with the aftermath of his actions.
News circulated and was regurgitated by the national media of General Raheel Sharif’s approval and imminent stationing to command the Saudi Arabia-led 39-nation “muslim” military coalition formed to serve as a platform for security cooperation to combat terrorism.
Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif on Friday confirmed the recent development that former army chief General (retd) Raheel Sharif was made the chief of 39-nation Islamic military coalition during a talk show appearance on Geo TV, Asif admitted that an agreement in this regard was finalised few days back; however, the defence minister said he didn’t have much information at the moment about the details of the said agreement.
In an interesting turn of events, the same Defence Minister retracted his statement after a huge upheaval in the society over the issue tagging Raheel Sharif as “Riyal Sharif” based on hearsay that the move was mainly made for monetary gains along with other “sect based privileges and biases” making for an uneasy terrain for the “muslim minority” of Pakistan reigniting the notion of playing the “victim” card.
Asif made it clear in a senate hearing that under the rules, a retired army officer would have to seek an NOC from the Ministry of Defence before embarking on any new assignment outside the country.
He said the former army chief had returned to Pakistan after performing umrah in Saudi Arabia and claimed that his visit to the kingdom had been “mistakenly” highlighted by the media as an offer by Saudi Arabia for Raheel Sharif to lead the Islamic army.
One should bear in mind that it was during Raheel Sharif’s tenure when Pakistan categorically declined Saudi Arabia’s initial offer to join the “alliance”.
ISPR’s role in the entire episode has been of a mere spectator thus far.