WASHINGTON, Nov 30 President Pervez Musharraf said on Friday that if the coming elections created a situation that was ‘unacceptable’ to him, he would step down. In an interview with ABC television, Mr Musharraf also said that the United States and other western powers were partly responsible for the current political crisis in Pakistan.

Asked if he would enter into a power-sharing arrangement with Pakistan People’s Party chairperson Benazir Bhutto, Mr Musharraf replied: “I’m not into any deal with anyone.… We are in a stage where we have to have free, fair and transparent elections. We have to see, after the election, how things develop.”

He paused, and then said: “If the situation develops in a manner which is absolutely unacceptable to me, I have a choice of leaving.”

Mr Musharraf insisted that measures like the imposition of emergency were taken in response to the ‘opposition’s tactics’.

“The opposition, they have all along these five years tried to destabilise me and the government. You have to understand, we don’t want agitation here... Agitation means breaking down everything, burning things. That cannot be allowed.”

The president he would not allow political protests even after withdrawing some of the restrictions imposed on Nov 3. “So, therefore, if anyone is trying to do that, we will stop it. That is the way it is in Pakistan.”

Mr Musharraf said that Washington should blame its own ‘inconsistent’ policies for failing to achieve the desired results in this war.

“If there’s a failure, it’s not Pakistan’s failure,” the president replied when asked why his government failed to root out Al Qaeda and Taliban militants from the tribal region.

Pakistan, he said, had been struggling against radicalism and terror for 30 years. “We are fighting terrorism everywhere,” he told ABC television. “We have gone through 30 years of turmoil. We cooperate very well. So if there’s a failure, it’s not Pakistan’s failure. Please don’t accuse us.”

The United States, he said, turned a blind eye to terrorism until Sept 11, 2001. “We handled the situation alone for 12 years,” he added.

Mr Musharraf refused to say what he would do with if Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was captured in Pakistan.