ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has told Iran the Saudi-led military alliance was not sectarian and Islamabad will not become part of any anti-Tehran agenda, sources said.
Officials in the foreign ministry said on Tuesday that since Pakistan valued its ties with both Saudi Arabia and Iran, it could not annoy any one of them.
“We have been in contact with Iran in the recent days and have tried to clarify Pakistan’s position. We have told them, Islamabad was part of any anti-terrorism alliance not an anti-Iran alliance,” said an official, citing contacts with the Iranian counterparts.
Earlier, the government allowed former army chief Raheel Sharif to command a Saudi Arabia-led military alliance of 39 Muslim states.
Defence Minister Khawaja Mohammed Asif said that the Saudi government had formally requested Pakistan seeking General Sharif’s services.
“Raheel Sharif has been allowed to join the military alliance,” he said.
Asif said that the government was ready to clear its position on the issue in the parliament if any lawmaker raised it.
The alliance was formed by Saudi Arabia in December 2015 with its headquarters in Riyadh.
Iran had objected to the formation of the alliance fearing it was a Sunni-alliance rather than a Muslim alliance.
The government had also delayed approval to Raheel Sharif – considering Iran’s objections —- for several months before finally giving a nod to the former army chief.
Another foreign ministry official said that Pakistan had assured Iran it would not let the alliance become sectarian in nature.
“Iran says it will wait and see how the alliance goes but they have their fears. Pakistan values its ties with both Iran and Saudi Arabia,” he added.
This week, National Security Adviser Nasir Janjua said that Islamic military alliance – led by former army chief Raheel Sharif – would bring unity to the Muslim world.
Januja stressed that with his experience Gen Sharif would remove internal misunderstandings among Muslim countries. “Iran and other countries opposed to the alliance will also benefit from this,” he said.