Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary, Tehmina Janjua, assured the National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs on Tuesday that Pakistan is committed to its policy of non-interference in the conflict of Muslim countries. The committee discussed the issue of NOC granted to former Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif to head the Saudi-led 41 nation Islamic military alliance.
Janjua further said that it is very difficult to maintain equal relations with both countries – Saudia & Iran – but still, Pakistan will never go against the interests of Iran. Qaumi Watan Party Chairman, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, raised concerns over Raheel Sharif’s new appointment. He asked why Pakistan agreed to become a member of the coalition in the first place without having a clear idea of aim and objectives of the alliance. Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the PTI leader, expressed similar views and warned that Pakistan must make careful decisions regarding the Islamic alliance.
However, Janjua maintained that 41-nation military alliance is formed to counter terrorism and Pakistan will not participate in maneuvers against any country – especially Iran. She said Pakistan is trying to reduce tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Gen Sharif is likely to assume command of the anti-terrorism alliance, dubbed the ‘Muslim Nato’, in April. This alliance was formed by Saudi Arabia in December 2015 in order to curb terrorism in Muslim countries. However, Iran doesn’t seem happy with the appointment of Raheel Sharif as a head of this alliance. Iranian Ambassador Mehdi Honardoost expressed reservations about the issuance of NOC to Gen. Sharif to lead the alliance, however, Foreign Office had not responded to Iranian concerns yet.