–AGP rejects defence secy’s statement to SC that former army chief had been granted NOC by Defence Ministry before assuming command of Saudi-led military alliance
–CJP asks govt to forward Gen Raheel’s appointment matter to federal cabinet for ‘approval or disapproval’
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday was informed by the attorney general for Pakistan that former Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General (r) Raheel Sharif did not acquire a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) from the federal cabinet before leaving for Saudi Arabia to head a 41-nation military alliance initiated by the Saudi government.
During the hearing of a suo motu case regarding the dual nationality of civil servants and judges, the attorney general said that as per the law, the NOC is issued by the federal government to government officers intending to serve in foreign countries.
“It is compulsory for the NOC to be approved by the federal cabinet under government service rules,” he added.
The legalities on the matter were brought to light after Defence Secretary Lt Gen (r) Zamirul Hassan informed the court that the former army chief was granted a NOC by the Defence Ministry after the General Headquarters (GHQ) gave him a clearance to accept the post of Islamic Military Counterterrorism Coalition Commander in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The defence secretary further informed the court that former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general Lt Gen (r) Ahmad Shuja Pasha is currently unemployed.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar while heading a three-judge bench of the SC directed the authorities to forward the matter of Raheel Sharif’s appointment with the Saudi military to the federal cabinet for a methodical approval or disapproval.
“We have to proceed according to the law,” the CJP said, while adding that the federal government’s authority is controlled by the cabinet. He observed that the matter was of an urgent nature.
The hearing was adjourned indefinitely as the attorney general and defence secretary have sought time to refer the issue of NOC to the cabinet.
The court was earlier informed by the defence secretary that the process is underway to receive an undertaking from all members of the armed forces stating that they are not dual nationals.
Earlier on August 2, the SC had questioned how and why former chiefs of the Pakistan Army and ISI, who were privy to sensitive information, had taken up foreign jobs without completing the mandatory gap of two years after their retirement.
The SC had demanded that government-issued NOC’s be submitted by the defence secretary regarding the matter at hand.
SAUDI MILITARY ALLIANCE:
The appointment of Gen Raheel Sharif as the leader of the Saudi military alliance last year had sparked concerns over how the action would impact Pakistan’s foreign policy, and whether it was fully sanctioned by parliament.
The 41-nation armed coalition was initially proposed as a platform for security cooperation among Muslim countries and included provisions for training, equipment and troops, and the involvement of religious scholars for devising a counter-terrorism narrative.
Various quarters subsequently raised concerns about the nature of the alliance and how it may affect a pre-existing parliamentary resolution on Yemen passed unanimously by lawmakers calling for “neutrality in the conflict” in 2015.
The then-defence minister Khurram Dastagir had later informed the Senate that the alliance will not take part in “unrelated military operations”.