Pakistan's military ruler has amended a law to give army courts sweeping powers to try civilians on charges ranging from treason to inciting public unrest, officials said Sunday, as the country's opposition leader prepared to stage a massive, 300-kilometer protest march.
The moves came one week after President Gen. Pervez Musharraf imposed a state of emergency, which he said was necessary to fight Islamic militancy. But the main targets of his crackdown so far have been his most outspoken critics, including the increasingly independent judiciary and media.
Thousands of people have been arrested, TV news stations taken off air, and judges removed. On Saturday, three reporters from Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper were ordered to leave Pakistan because of an editorial in the paper that used an expletive to allude to Musharraf.
The army chief - under pressure from the United States and other Western allies to return to the path of democracy - won praise for agreeing Saturday to lift the emergency within weeks and hold elections by February 15, one month later than originally scheduled.
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