Pakistan's ex-army chief allowed to lead Saudi-led alliance

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Officials say a former Pakistani army chief has left for Saudi Arabia to lead a 39-member Saudi-led military alliance that was formed to fight terrorism.

Three government officials said a flight took Raheel Sharif to Saudi Arabia on Friday. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to media on the record.

Sharif completed his three-year tenure as Pakistan's army chief last year and he was very popular in Pakistan due to his reputation as being tough on extremists.

Defense Minister Khawaja Asif told Geo that Sharif was allowed to lead the coalition at Saudi Arabia's request. Pakistan has said it will not take part in any action against Muslim countries, including Iran, which is not part of the coalition.