Opposition parties to give tough time to govt over joining Saudi-led alliance

April 07,2017

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The main opposition parties in the Parliament have decided to give tough time to the government over its decision to join the Saudi-led 39-nation military alliance.

Senator Farhatullah Babar told The News that Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) would take up this matter during next session of the Parliament. “We have already submitted call attention notice on this issue seeking reply from the government about terms and conditions of this alliance,” he said.

Following a meeting with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan did not disclose content of the discussion but he advised the relevant authorities to refrain from becoming part of the military alliance. While addressing a public gathering on last Sunday at Talagang, Imran Khan said that internationally a conspiracy is being hatched to divide Muslims. Referring to Saudi military alliance, Imran said the world powers want infighting in Muslim world on the basis of Sunni and Shia sects.

“Pakistan must play role of a neutral negotiator instead of becoming party to the conflict,” he reiterated. All parliamentary parties had earlier opposed the idea to become part of the alliance. Recently, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif revealed in the Geo News programme Jirga that Pakistan has allowed former army chief Raheel Sharif to lead Saudi-led military alliance.

Iran has also expressed its concern over Pakistan’s decision. Pakistan’s Foreign Office held that the country’s participation in the military alliance will not affect its policy of neutrality in the region because the alliance is being built to fight the menace of terrorism.

Lt Gen (R) Talat Masood told The News that ideally Pakistan should not join this military alliance but rulers and the institutions are so obliged that they cannot say no to this alliance. “Saudi alliance does suit Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif too,” he believes. He also said that Army also wants to join this alliance. There is a charm for retired officers to get employment opportunity, he added.

Dr Shireen Mazari, Imran Khan's spokesperson, told The News that the PTI will take up this issue during next session of the Parliament. This decision of the government will add sectarian polarisation within Pakistan as well as greater regional instability, she said, adding, “Parliament’s approval should have been sought.”

She said that by allowing General (R) Raheel to head Saudi-led military alliance, the government is undermining parliamentary resolution on Yemen. Lt Gen (R) Masood said that Raheel Sharif has great influence in the Army and now his alleviation is being taken as matter of pride. Commenting on PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s meeting with the army chief, he said “Khan Sahib always takes leverage from Army and he wants to show that his relations with Army are exemplary.”


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