General Raheel Sharif, the former Pakistani army chief, will now head the Saudi Arabia-led 39-nation military coalition formed to serve as a platform for security cooperation and combat terrorism, the Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism.
The decision to appoint Gen (retd) Raheel, who retired in November 2016, was taken after taking the incumbent government into confidence and both the governments and army were on board regarding the decision to let Raheel take charge of the alliance.
Raheel retired as the army chief in November and has been succeeded by General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
According to Saudi Arabia, the alliance is formed to fight ISIS and other militant outfits. At the time of its constitution, there were 34 countries in the alliance which has raised to 39.
The countries include Turkey, UAE, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Sudan, Malaysia, Egypt, Yemen and others. The Joint Command Centre, headquarters of the military alliance, is based in Riyadh.
Islamabad was also part of the new alliance to combat militancy.
Iran was not included in the grouping which appeared as a vague attempt to forge a Sunni Muslim alliance against Shiite Iran to curtail its influence in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and rest of the Middle East.
The Saudi-led coalition is also engaged in a military operation in Yemen since March 2015 when Houthis drove out the government led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is believed to be in exile in Saudi Arabia.