Raheel Sharif leads Saudi military alliance on two-day Pakistan visit

Former army chief Raheel Sharif calls on Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa at GHQ in Rawalpindi on Monday. (ISPR)
Updated 11 February 2019

Raheel Sharif leads Saudi military alliance on two-day Pakistan visit

  • Meets army chief General Bajwa, discusses regional peace and stability
  • Aides deny visit has anything to do with upcoming tour of Saudi crown prince

ISLAMABAD: General Raheel Sharif, former Pakistan army chief and head of a Saudi-led, 41-country counterterrorism alliance, is on a two-day visit to Pakistan to meet senior military and civilians leaders, his aides said on Monday.
The media wing of the Pakistan army said Sharif called on Pakistani army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa and discussed “regional peace and stability.” No further details of the meeting were shared in the statement. 
In 2015, Saudi state news agency SPA said a new Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition would be established, and based out of Riyadh, it would “coordinate and support military operations” against terrorism. Sharif was formally appointed to head the alliance in January 2017.
Local media reported on Sunday night that Sharif would hold key meetings with top leaders while in Pakistan, including Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmoood Qureshi, Army Chief Bajwa and Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Mahmood Hayat.
The Pakistani foreign office could not be reached for comment on the agenda of Sharif’s meetings. 
But a senior foreign office official confirmed that a delegation of the coalition was in Islamabad for talks with top military and political leaders. He declined to be named as he was not authorized to speak to the media on the record.
Defense analyst and close aide to Sharif, retired Lt. Gen. Amjad Shuaib, also confirmed that Sharif was leading a delegation for talks in Pakistan.
“The delegation of the Islamic Military Coalition led by General Raheel will interact with parliamentarians to address their concerns and questions about the Yemen conflict, besides having meetings with top civilian and military leadership,” Shuaib said.
Sharif’s appointment as the leader of the Saudi-led military alliance last year had sparked debate over what impact the move would have on Pakistan’s foreign policy, and particularly how it would affect a unanimous parliamentary resolution on Yemen calling for “neutrality in the conflict.”
Then defense minister Khurram Dastagir had informed Senate that the alliance would not take part in “unrelated military operations.”
During a visit of a Pakistani Senate delegation to the Islamic coalition’s headquarters in the Saudi capital of Riyadh last year, Sharif was reported by the Senate Secretariat to have said: “The Islamic military coalition was not formed to take action against any country, nation or sect. The primary objective of this institution is to counter terrorism and eliminate it.”
Sharif aide Shuaib also said the visiting delegation would seek “Pakistan’s support in intelligence sharing on terrorism, training of the coalition’s troops and purchase of arms and ammunition from Pakistan.”
Another close Sharif aide, who declined to be named, said the delegation would not be discussing security or other arrangements related to the upcoming visit of crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman later in February.
“Raheel Sharif’s visit has nothing to do with the crown prince and his visit,” the aide said. “That is not at all in the mandate of the military coalition’s work.”


King Salman congratulates President Alvi on Pakistan’s Independence Day

Updated 13 August 2020

King Salman congratulates President Alvi on Pakistan’s Independence Day

  • The Saudi king wished the Pakistani president good health and prayed for the prosperity of Pakistani people
  • Saudi envoy in Islamabad also recorded an Independence Day message in Urdu that went viral on social media

ISLAMABAD: King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud sent a message of felicitation to Pakistan’s President Dr. Arif Alvi on Thursday, congratulating him on the 74th Independence Day of his country that will be celebrated on Friday.
The king reached out to the Pakistani head of the state on behalf of his government and people of Saudi Arabia, wishing him good health and praying for the progress and prosperity of the people of Pakistan.
Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki also recorded an Independence Day message in Urdu that went viral on social media. 

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have always enjoyed cordial relations with each other. The Kingdom has been among of the biggest job providers to Pakistanis and the greatest source of foreign remittances for the South Asian nation.
The two countries have also witnessed leadership level exchanges since the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government assumed the political leadership of Pakistan. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman undertook a high-profile visit to Islamabad in February 2019, and Prime Minister Imran Khan also went to the Kingdom several times during his tenure in the office.
The Saudi king and ambassadors are also among the first foreign leaders and envoys who have issued the Independence Day messages to congratulate the government and people of Pakistan.