ISLAMABAD, March 25 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said Saturday that the government has permitted former army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif to lead a military alliance of 39 Islamic countries.
Raheel retired as Pakistan's army chief in November 2016 after completing his three-year term.
It was reported in January that the Islamic Military Alliance (IMA), which was formed in Saudi Arabia in December 2015 to combat terrorism, has picked Raheel to head the grouping. However, controversy surfaced later that he had not sought permission from Islamabad.
"The government has given its approval and it has been decided in principle that Gen. Raheel will go to Saudi Arabia to lead the alliance," Asif told the private Geo television on Saturday.
The minister also disclosed that the Saudi government had formally approached Pakistan to seek the services of Raheel Sharif.
Defense ministers of the IMA member countries are scheduled to meet in Saudi Arabia in May, according to Asif.