Has Pak’s Ex-COAS Raheel Sharif Been Given Marching Orders by IMA?
We can’t know for sure yet, but a private TV news channel has reported that Pakistan’s retired army chief Raheel Sharif is contemplating leaving the “Muslim Nato”, formally known as the Islamic Military Alliance (IMA).
In case you hadn’t noticed, in Pakistan, we create our own set of facts.
It has been promulgated by the Daily Pakistan that “Raheel Sharif is seriously considering leaving the command of the military alliance and coming back to Pakistan”. This can’t be true, since Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khawaja Asif had assured the Parliament earlier on 13 April that the “Saudi government would hold a grand meeting in May, where it would unveil the alliance’s Terms Of Reference (TOR),” and that “PM Nawaz Sharif and former COAS Gen Raheel Sharif will attend the event.”
It sounds like Raheel – with a larger-than-life persona as per the ISPR (Inter-Services Public Relations) – has been fired.
Trump Took The Air Out Of Pakistan’s Islamic Balloon
The 2017 Riyadh Summit was held on 20-21 May on the occasion of the visit of United States President Donald Trump to Saudi Arabia – the only US President to make Saudi Arabia his first stop overseas. Pakistan was unexpectedly sidelined at the summit.
Officially, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has the world’s third most Sharia-condensed constitution, after Saudi Arabia and Iran. Having acquired the ‘Islamic Bomb’ that collectively belonged to the Ummah of Islam, Pakistan viewed itself, albeit haughtily, as the only Muslim country that is looked up to by the rest of the 55 Muslim-majority states as their symbolic leader.
The ultimate tragedy occurred when President Trump, and not the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, led the US-Arab Islamic Summit on Terrorism at King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz’s request. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his former master, Chief Of Army Staff General (rtd) Raheel Sharif, were spurned by Trump in a new-age way when PM Sharif wasn’t even invited to address the summit.
The one-on-one meeting between President Trump and PM Nawaz Sharif, that Pakistan’s Foreign Office hyperbolised ahead of the summit, never transpired either.
Then, to add insult to injury, President Trump proclaimed Pakistan’s next door neighbour India as a victim of terror (by way of Pakistan-aided terrorist attacks through its proxies). This caused the army-backed hyper-nationalist Pakistani media to fly right off the handle and become enraged at their own Prime Minister. They even said that the cricket-star-turned-politician Imran Khan blamed Nawaz Sharif of failing to take a stand for Pakistan and other Muslim communities in Iran, in disputed Kashmir, and in Palestinian territories.
It’s not entirely clear what ‘stand’ Nawaz Sharif could have possibly taken to undo the humiliation of being accused by the leader of the free world of nurturing the likes of the Afghan Taliban and its subgroup the Haqqani Network, the Mullah Nazir Group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, and Jaish-e-Mohammad – to name a few – from birth to adulthood.
But that’s not all. President Trump then called out Pakistan on its brazen colonial ambitions in Afghanistan when he said "courageous Afghan soldiers are making tremendous sacrifices in the fight against the Taliban, and others, in the fight for their country”.
Maybe it’s time now for the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) to stop trying to implement its own version of “strategic depth” in Afghanistan.
Trump Lashed Out at Iran Too
President Trump ruffled more feathers by addressing his purely Muslim audience in the land of the two holy mosques and asking them to cloister Iran. He said:
But no discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists all three – safe harbour, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment. It is a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region. I am speaking, of course, of Iran. From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.
Contrary to what the vast majority of both Shiite and Sunni Muslims have been led to believe, the fact is, Iran is aiding ISIS through its funding of Hamas. In essence, Iran was in alliance with Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) which metamorphosed into the Islamic State due to the substantial financial ties between the country and AQI. It is no big secret that Iran deployed violence against non-Alawite Sunni Muslims through its indefatigable commitment to Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad out of the morbid fear of isolation and as a result, not being able to gain military advantage in the region.
Only 132 days into his presidency, Donald Trump declared India a victim of terrorism, acknowledged that the Afghan army soldiers are fighting a Pakistan-backed Taliban to protect the sovereignty of their country, called for the isolation of Iran, told the Middle East to fight its own wars and to stop creating refugees and driving them out to invade America.
It’s no wonder that former COAS General Raheel Sharif’s career has taken a nosedive into the holy ground.
(Ahmad Raza Naseer is a Pakistani blogger, humanist, freethinker and human rights activist. He can be reached on Twitter @ARazaNaseer. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)