Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has barred his party leaders from making any controversial statements about former army chief Gen Raheel Sharif amid his appointment as the head of a 41-nation Saudi-led military alliance of Muslim countries. The former army chief’s appointment had been criticised by some Pakistani politicians, retired army officers, journalists, intellectuals, who had questioned the decision of the retired general to join a foreign military alliance. The prime minister found contradictory statements being made by senior leaders of his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party. “Nawaz Sharif has prohibited PML-N leaders from giving any controversial statements about General (retired) Raheel Sharif,” Radio Pakistan quoted PM Sharif as saying. The prime minister said the entire nation hailed the former army chief for his “meritorious services”.
Sharif’s directions to leaders of his party came days after Sindh Governor Muhammad Zubair called Gen Sharif “just another general” and said he should not be made “larger than life”. “Raheel Sharif was made larger than life and that’s the reason that when he is allotted a piece of land — which he deserves — it raises eyebrows,” Zubair said. “He is a normal general like any other generals and it’s his right to acquire the piece of land he was given. Let’s be fair with him — let’s not make him larger than life. This will only create more problems for him,” he said. Zubair was referring to the news that Gen Sharif has been awarded agricultural land for his services.
“His [Sharif’s] job as chief of the Saudi-led alliance is also being seen as something extraordinary – when it should be his prerogative as a normal person,” the Sindh governor added. Minister for States and Frontier Regions (Safron) Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch said last month that General Sharif should not accept the controversial position. Gen Sharif, who retired as Pakistan’s army chief last November, is likely to assume command of the 41-nation anti-terrorism alliance, being dubbed the ‘Muslim NATO’, this month.