General Raheel Sharif, heads the IMCTC, an initiative by the Saudi Crown Prince. Photo: Reuters / Mian Khursheed

Saudi Arabia has asked Pakistan to play a bigger role in the Islamic Military Counter-Terrorism Coalition. The news comes after the Imran Khan government won a $6-billion bailout deal from Riyadh to help Islamabad manage its dire economic situation.

A delegation from the counter-terror coalition arrived in Islamabad on Sunday on a two-day visit. It was led by General (retired) Raheel Sharif, the former Pakistan Army commander who now heads the IMCTC.

Sharif, who was Army chief from 2013 to 2016, met with the current Army head General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Monday, before meeting Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday. While the official purpose was to lay the groundwork for a visit to Islamabad later this week by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al Saud, General Sharif and his delegation explained Pakistan’s increased military role in the counter-terror body, senior military officials said.

More troops needed

“Pakistan has already deployed troops in Saudi Arabia for the territorial protection of the kingdom. But now Pakistan has been asked to increase its military involvement in the IMCTC,” a senior military official told Asia Times.

“[The] Pakistan Army is already training troops from Saudi Arabia and its allies. Now that there is a broader coalition in place, more Pakistani personnel are needed for training purposes.”

Sources said the delegation’s visit comes at a time when the military coalition is finally taking shape, having had little to do in the three-plus years since its inception. Asia Times reported in August that Riyadh has been pressing the new government in Pakistan to vocally back the IMCTC. That is expected to take shape in the aftermath of Crown Prince MBS’ visit. “Either way, the IMCTC delegation visiting Islamabad, while being commanded by former Pakistani Army Chief has already sent the signal that Pakistan is wholeheartedly backing the coalition,” a senior diplomat noted.

In February last year, Pakistan agreed to send more troops to Saudi Arabia when Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa met Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh amid an increase in cross-border attacks orchestrated by Houthi rebels in Yemen. Then in October, Pakistan won a $6 billion bailout from Saudi Arabia after Islamabad provided diplomatic support to Riyadh in the aftermath of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Pakistan’s compliance with Saudi requests in the Middle East stems in large part from the economic crisis at home. Last month, Islamabad passed a finance bill in a bid to avoid a 13th bailout from the International Monetary Fund, because the rupee has plunged in value and the economy is still threatened by a balance of payment crisis.

$10-billion refinery at Gwadar

During his visit, Prince Mohammed bin Salman is set to sign various lucrative deals for Pakistan, notably a $10-billion oil refinery near Gwadar port.

Some analysts have been concerned about an increased Saudi presence in the volatile Balochistan province, not far from the border with Iran, but others fear the tasks that Pakistani troops may now face in the Middle East for the counter-terror coalition could be more serious.

In an address to a Senate delegation in December, General Raheel Sharif said the IMCTC was not aligned against any country or sect. However, given that Iran is not part of the coalition of 41 Muslim nations, analysts believe the coalition has been designed to militarily boost Saudi interests in the region and other Muslim states.

The coalition was announced in December 2015 at a time when the Islamic State (ISIS) was at its strongest and even launching attacks within Saudi territory. But, more than three years on, ISIS has largely wiped out in Syria and many are asking what the anti-terror alliance will do.

Despite the uncertainty, Pakistan seems more than likely to agree to Riyadh’s latest request, given the financial benefits it is set to offer.

Former Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad, however, felt the current government is in a better position to deal with Saudi demands than its predecessors.

“The Sharifs were too indebted personally to the Saudis, given how Nawaz Sharif was given support by them in exile, to challenge the Saudi rulers even the slightest. [But] Imran Khan is under no such compulsion. However, he must keep in mind that aid and borrowing cannot work in the long run. Pakistan needs to be made economically self-sufficient so that we don’t take any orders,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Talat Masood, a former secretary at the Ministry of Defense Production, maintained that civilian leaders have little say in such matters. “Especially ties with Saudi Arabia. Given the heavy involvement of the Army in the relations, and the military demands of Saudi Arabia, it’s the military establishment that has the final say,” he said.

Join the Conversation

74 Comments

  1. I used to be more than happy to find this web-site.I needed to thanks to your time for this wonderful read!! I positively enjoying every little bit of it and I’ve you bookmarked to take a look at new stuff you blog post.

  2. Usually I don’t read article on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do it! Your writing style has been amazed me. Thanks, very nice article.

  3. Greate article. Keep writing such kind of info on your page.
    Im really impressed by your blog.
    Hi there, You’ve done a fantastic job. I will certainly digg
    it and for my part recommend to my friends. I am sure they’ll be benefited
    from this website.

  4. We’re a bunch of volunteers and opening a brand new scheme in our
    community. Your site offered us with helpful information to work
    on. You have performed an impressive process and our whole group will
    be grateful to you.

  5. Hi i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anyplace,
    when i read this post i thought i could also make comment due to this
    sensible piece of writing.

  6. I am not sure where you are getting your information,
    but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more.
    Thanks for excellent information I was looking for this info for my mission.

  7. Thank you for the sensible critique. Me & my neighbor were just preparing to do some research on this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more clear from this post. I am very glad to see such magnificent info being shared freely out there.

  8. Please let me know if you’re looking for a author for your site. You have some really good posts and I believe I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d really like to write some content for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please blast me an e-mail if interested. Regards!

  9. I do agree with all of the ideas you have presented in your post. They are really convincing and will certainly work. Still, the posts are very short for newbies. Could you please extend them a little from next time? Thanks for the post.

  10. Having read this I believed it was extremely informative.
    I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this article
    together. I once again find myself spending way too much time both reading and posting comments.
    But so what, it was still worth it!

  11. For hottest information you have to visit world wide web and on web I found this web
    site as a finest web site for newest updates. pof natalielise

  12. Howdy! I know this is sort of off-topic but I had to ask. Does building a well-established blog such as yours take
    a large amount of work? I am completely new to blogging but I do write in my diary on a daily basis.
    I’d like to start a blog so I can share my experience and thoughts online.
    Please let me know if you have any ideas or tips for new aspiring bloggers.
    Appreciate it!

  13. I’ll immediately take hold of your rss as I can’t
    find your e-mail subscription hyperlink or newsletter service.
    Do you have any? Kindly allow me know so that I may just subscribe.
    Thanks.

  14. Hi there! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a collection of volunteers
    and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche.
    Your blog provided us useful information to work on. You have done a marvellous job!

  15. My programmer is trying to convince me to move to .net from PHP.
    I have always disliked the idea because of the expenses.
    But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using Movable-type on numerous websites for about a year and am anxious about switching to another platform.
    I have heard great things about blogengine.net. Is there a way I can transfer all my wordpress content into it?
    Any kind of help would be really appreciated!

  16. I don’t know whether it’s just me or if everybody else experiencing problems with your blog.
    It appears like some of the text in your posts are running off
    the screen. Can somebody else please comment and let me
    know if this is happening to them too? This may be a problem
    with my browser because I’ve had this happen previously.
    Thanks

  17. I believe what you said was very reasonable.
    However, think on this, suppose you were to create a killer headline?
    I mean, I don’t wish to tell you how to run your blog, but what if you added something to maybe get a person’s attention?
    I mean Pakistan asked to play bigger role in Saudi counter-terror coalition – Asia Times
    is kinda boring. You ought to peek at Yahoo’s home
    page and see how they create article titles to grab people to click.

    You might add a video or a picture or two to grab people interested about everything’ve got to
    say. In my opinion, it would make your blog a little livelier.

  18. I liked up to you’ll receive carried out proper here. The caricature is attractive, your authored subject matter stylish. nonetheless, you command get bought an edginess over that you want be turning in the following. sick indisputably come further until now once more since exactly the similar just about very ceaselessly inside of case you shield this increase.

  19. really nice

    This is as a matter of fact established information my friend. you are a exceptionally gentle scribbler . i lust after to helping with you my website as well. proclaim me what do you think about it

    buy youtube views

    Thankyou again for posting such good content. Cheers

  20. I simply couldn’t depart your website before suggesting that
    I actually enjoyed the usual information a person provide to your guests?
    Is going to be back frequently to check out new posts

  21. This is the very interesting post. We like that you only provide quality information and not simply write about something.
    Maintain it up and you may get to great results.

    So what do an individual think about my web site? magazin de pescuit

  22. This is a truly fascinating website I sine qua non say.

    Too polluted that there are not too various websites like This anymore. But I am happy that I found it. Good scribble literary works on it .

    You can see my website here as unquestionably: xbody

  23. Hey, I think your site might be having browser compatibility issues.

    When I look at your website in Opera, it looks fine but
    when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.
    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, fantastic blog!

  24. Just wish to say your article is as astonishing. The clarity
    in your post is simply great and i could assume you are an expert on this subject.
    Fine with your permission let me to grab your feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post.
    Thanks a million and please carry on the rewarding
    work.

  25. Hi there, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just curious if
    you get a lot of spam comments? If so how do you prevent
    it, any plugin or anything you can advise? I get so much lately it’s driving me crazy so any assistance is very much appreciated.

  26. An impressive share, I just given this onto a colleague who was doing a little bit evaluation on this. And he in fact bought me breakfast as a result of I discovered it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! However yeah Thnkx for spending the time to discuss this, I really feel strongly about it and love reading more on this topic. If potential, as you become experience, would you mind updating your weblog with extra particulars? It’s highly useful for me. Large thumb up for this blog put up!

  27. Ring video games are the fastest and the most hassle free method to make money. Gambling addicts make bad choices and suffer the implications. If your funds are little, there are Sets to fit your requirements.

  28. Comprehending the poker rules and methods will assist you make cash within couple of seconds. A tired poker player is much more most likely to make errors than 1 who has just started a game or match.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *