(AFP) – Aug 19, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States said Tuesday it would study any application for asylum by ex-Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf but pointed out that no such bid had been made so far.
"We haven't been asked to provide him with any asylum or place of residence," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said amid speculations that the former staunch US "war on terror" ally who quit Monday might stay abroad, including in the United States.
"If he chooses to take up residence somewhere, I mean if he were to request that, we would obviously look at it, but it's not an issue that we've been approached with," Wood explained.
There has been much speculation on what will happen to Musharraf after his resignation in the face of looming impeachment charges and whether he will remain in Pakistan.
Among countries cited in unconfirmed reports about his alleged asylum plans were Saudi Arabia, the United States, Britain, the United Arab Emirates or Turkey.
One report said that Pakistan's army and the United States had brokered a deal with the ruling coalition in Islamabad for him to avoid criminal charges.
Officials from both the coalition and the security services said in Islamabad that Musharraf would travel to close ally Saudi Arabia in the coming days to perform the Muslim rite of Umrah.
A senior coalition official said that Musharraf would then head for London or Turkey, but his aides insisted he would return after his religious duties in the Gulf kingdom.
In Riyadh, the Saudi ambassador to Pakistan was quoted as saying that reports the kingdom had a plane waiting in Islamabad to take Musharraf were "baseless claims" and "media lies."
Musharraf's decision to quit came after the coalition said it was ready to press ahead with impeachment as early as Tuesday on charges that reportedly included violating the constitution.
He seized power when he was military chief in a coup in 1999 and become a key US ally after abandoning Pakistan's support for the Taliban following the September 11, 2001 attacks.
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