‘Iran concerned over Raheel as head of Saudi-led military alliance’

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Tehran, April 3 (IANS) Iran has expressed its reservations regarding the appointment of former Pakistan Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif (Retd.) as head of the Saudi-led 39-nation Islamic military alliance, saying it was not “satisfied” with the coalition.

“We are concerned about this issue… that it may impact the unity of Islamic countries,” Iran’s Ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoost said.

Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency quoted Honardoost as saying that Pakistan had contacted Iranian officials before issuing the no-objection certificate (NOC) to Gen Sharif to lead the Saudi alliance.

“But that does not indicate that Iran is satisfied with this decision or it has accepted the same,” the envoy said.

The ambassador said Iran had conveyed its concerns to the Pakistani government.

He said Tehran had informed Islamabad that Iran would not become part of such a military alliance, adding that neither had Iran been extended an offer to join a coalition of this sort.

He proposed that all important Islamic countries come together to form a “coalition of peace” in order to resolve their issues “rather (than) forming a controversial military alliance”.

Gen Sharif is likely to assume command of the anti-terrorism alliance, being dubbed the “Muslim Nato”, this month.

The government had issued an NOC for Gen Sharif to join the alliance after an understanding was reached between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on the matter, Maj. Gen. Ijaz Awan (Retd.), a defence analyst and close associate of the former army chief, had told Dawn.

–IANS

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