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Last Updated: Friday, 1 June 2007, 16:11 GMT 17:11 UK
Pakistan's army warns opposition
President Musharraf
Gen Musharraf is facing an unprecedented challenge to his rule
Pakistan's top army commanders say there is a "malicious campaign" against institutions of the state by a small minority of vested interests.

The army warning comes amid a growing challenge to President Musharraf's decision to suspend the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

The move has galvanised opposition to the rule of Gen Musharraf, who is the head of the army.

Meanwhile, two TV channels have had their live broadcasts suspended.

The stations are among those that have given considerable coverage to the issues around the suspension of the chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry.

Obstructionist forces

The top army commanders issued their warning at a meeting of corps commanders in Rawalpindi.

Nobody will be allowed to bring instability in the country
Corps commanders' statement

The meeting was held ahead of schedule and correspondents say it is highly unusual for the army to issue press statements after such meetings.

But Friday's press statement said the army's top commanders "took serious note of the malicious campaign against Institutions of State, launched by vested interests and opportunists who were acting as obstructionist forces to serve their personal interests and agenda even at the cost of flouting the rule of law".

The statement also had the following warning: "Any attempt by a small minority to obstruct the aspirations of vast majority would only derail the nation from its path of progress and prosperity."

It concluded by saying that President Musharraf "appreciated unstinted support of the participants".

Moreover, Gen Musharraf assured the commanders that "nobody will be allowed to bring instability in the country".

President Musharraf seized power in a coup in 1999.

He is currently facing an unprecedented challenge to his rule by a combination of opposition secular and religious parties, as well as most of Pakistan's legal community.

'No criticism'

Lawyers began the campaign after Gen Musharraf suspended Chief Justice Chaudhry on 9 March.

Mr Chaudhry surrounded by lawyers in Islamabad
Observers say Mr Chaudhry offers an alternative to military rule

Many of the protests have resulted in bloodshed. In mid-May, violence between pro and anti-government supporters left 41 people dead in Karachi.

News organisations, particularly Pakistan's growing TV news networks, have come under government pressure to tone down their coverage of the protests.

Two private TV channels have now been prevented from live broadcasting after making alleged criticisms of the army and judiciary.

Aaj and ARY One World rely on cable operators who have said that the country's broadcasting regulator has ordered them to cut the feeds for the two channels.

On Thursday Pakistan's information minister warned that the government would strictly enforce media laws forbidding criticism of the army and the judiciary.

Injured man in Karachi
At least 41 died in the Karachi violence

President Musharraf has blamed the broadcast media for stoking the crisis triggered by the suspension of the chief justice.

The BBC's Shoaib Hasan in Islamabad says that new independent TV channels have given blanket coverage to what has turned into a campaign against military rule.

Gen Musharraf suspended the chief justice because he said he was abusing his office.

Critics say he is trying to stifle the independence of the judiciary in an election year.

Observers have said Mr Chaudhry is offering an alternative to Pakistan's military rule, with an independent judiciary and a return to civilian government.




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