Islamabad: Pakistan's former army chief Gen Raheel Sharif left for Riyadh on Friday to head a 41-nation Islamic military alliance after getting the government's approval, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said amidst concerns in Islamabad about the Saudi-led grouping.
Asif told Geo News that Sharif had been "given permission to head the military alliance after completion of all legal formalities and requirements" by the federal government.
Media reports suggested that the 60-year-old former chief of army staff was granted approval to serve as head of the alliance for three years.
A military source, while speaking to Dawn.Com, said approval for Sharif's departure had also been granted by General Headquarters Rawalpindi according to established procedures.
Sharif, who has army chief for three years till his retirement on November 29, 2016, left for Riyadh on Friday on a special aircraft and was accompanied by his wife and mother.
It was not immediately clear if the government had discussed its decision with opposition parties, which recently expressed serious misgivings regarding the issue in light of the possibility that the alliance may be used against Iran, Dawn reported.
The news also seemed to go against what the defence minister himself had assured Parliament of on April 13, the report said.