In an exclusive interview with "Good Morning America," Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf said the West must share blame for his country's current political crisis.
"If there's a failure, it's not Pakistan's failure," Musharraf responded when asked by GMA's Chris Cuomo about the political turmoil and beleaguered anti-terrorism campaigns under way in Pakistan, particularly in the country's remote tribal regions.
On his country's search for Osama bin Laden, Musharraf refused to say what he would do if he was captured, including whether he would turn Bin Laden over to the U.S. "I think the people who need to know, know it," he said. "And I don't think the media is the one who needs to know."
Musharraf faulted the United States for its inconsistent support over the past 30 years, saying that the U.S. turned a blind eye to terrorism until Sept. 11. "We handled the situation alone for 12 years," he said.
Musharraf insists that Pakistan has been a staunch ally for the United States. He described the United States and Pakistan's support for the mujahedeen in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets by saying, "We launched a jihad together."
Stepping Down as General
Tuesday Musharraf stepped down as head of the army, a position he had held, in addition to the office of the presidency, since seizing power in a 1999 coup.
Musharraf said that giving up his post in the army, where he had served for 46 years, was very emotional for him, but he did it because he felt it was in Pakistan's best domestic interests.
"It hit me at the ceremony, I think, when I handed over the baton to the new army chief of staff. That ceremony that was very nostalgic, very emotional, because I thought this is the day when I am leaving. I am no more the chief.
The move represents a dramatic turnabout for Musharraf since declaring a state of emergency and suspending the constitution earlier this month. Just yesterday he set a date to lift emergency rule by Dec. 16 and promised that "come hell or high water, elections will be held Jan. 8."
Cracking Down on the Media
Musharraf has been broadly criticized for his crackdown on the media since the state of emergency.
He said he understood the West's concerns but insisted the move was necessary: "We had to crack down on the media because the media was creating despondency and despair in the public of Pakistan through distorting facts."
"I tolerate everything. I have no problem with criticism on me. Or even the government. But if that criticism is biased and distorted, distorted by design, distorted by political design, now that is where I … get agitated."
Musharraf sat down with Chris Cuomo for a 45-minute interview in Rawalpindi earlier today, his first interview since being sworn in again as president.