Organised terrorism greatest threat to Muslim countries: Raheel Sharif

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DUBAI: Former Chief of Army Staff General (retd) Raheel Sharif has said that Muslim countries face tremendous challenges and organised terrorism is the biggest threat to their foundation.

He was speaking, as the head of the Islamic Military Counter-Terrorism Coalition based in Saudi Arabia, in the Middle East Military Alliances and Coalitions Conference (MEMAC) — part of the Bahrain International Defence Exhibition and Conference (BIDEC) 2017 held in Manama from October 16-18.

The ex-army chief said that it was a great honour for him to be a part of the coalition as the military commander.

He said that terrorist groups were following organised methods of operation and the mercenaries and soldiers of al-Qaeda and Daesh were paid in hundreds of dollars.

“Kinetic actions are not enough as the problems are regional and transnational and deeply rooted in the political and socio-economic sphere”, the former army chief said to the present military officials and political leaders at the conference.

Referring to outfits such as al-Qaeda, Daesh, and Boko Haram, he said that terrorists were concentrated in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa. He conceded that the ongoing conflicts had intertwined with one another in a way which made the security situation more complex than ever before in history.

Speaking about Pakistan’s role in the war against terror, he said that the country had contributed more than its weight to regional security and global peace. He said that the terrorists’ narrative and ideology had been completely discredited in Pakistan.

Speaking about MEMAC’s working, the army chief said that it was based on four mechanisms: countering terrorist ideologies, enhancing communication and spreading awareness, countering the financing of terrorism and drying its sources, and strengthening cooperation and sharing of intelligence between member states.

General Sharif’s address at the MEMAC was his first public appearance as the head of the military coalition. He had served as Pakistan’s chief of army staff from November 2013 to November 2016.

The three-day international conference BIDEC 2017 was attended by more than 60 countries, including Pakistan. It was held under King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s patronage, who is also the commander-in-chief of the Bahrain defence force.