Peres denies trying to aid deposed leader

Musharraf resigned on Monday before impeachment proceedings against him could begin.

Peres 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Peres 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
President Shimon Peres has categorically denied reports in the Pakistani media that he was using his influence to try to help beleaguered Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to leave Pakistan safely and avoid impeachment. Musharraf resigned on Monday before impeachment proceedings against him could begin. Peres, according to his spokeswoman Ayelet Frish, could not understand why the Pakistani media was publishing material which he said was untrue, unless it was for the purpose of causing internal political strife. According to the published reports, Peres has been in regular contact with Musharraf since they met in Davos in January 2005, and since the eruption of the troubles that threatened both Musharraf's career and his security, Peres has been lobbying through diplomatic channels to guarantee him safe passage to Turkey. The reports also claimed that Peres has been in frequent telephone contact with Musharraf. While Peres and Musharraf did exchange letters of congratulation when each was elected, and though Peres had indeed commended Musharraf for his fight against terrorism and had voiced shock as well as sent a condolence message following the December, 2007 assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, Frish insisted that other than meetings in the general framework of events in Davos, there had been almost no contact between them. In light of the Israeli media's interest in the matter, she said, she had asked Peres several times whether he was absolutely sure that he had not exchanged letters and telephone calls with Musharraf, and Peres had assured her that he had not. Even before his initial meeting with Peres in Davos, Musharraf, in July of 2003, had called for a public debate on Pakistan's relations with Israel, and in January, 2005 Peres became the first Israeli leader to give an interview to a Pakistani newspaper. In September of that year, Silvan Shalom, who was then Israel's foreign minister, held a meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Kasuri.