(Reuters) Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto described Pakistan on Saturday as a pressure cooker about to explode, as President Pervez Musharraf's government tightened screws on media by ordering out three British journalists.
Having invoked emergency powers a week ago, General Musharraf has sacked most of the country's judges, put senior ones under house arrest, and ordered police to round up most of the opposition leadership and anyone else deemed troublesome.
He has also placed curbs on media. Private news channels are off the air and transmissions of BBC and CNN have been blocked, though newspapers are publishing freely.
" Pakistan under dictatorship is a pressure cooker," Bhutto said in an address to diplomats at reception hosted by loyalists at the Senate on Saturday night.
"Without a place to vent, the passion of our people for liberty threatens to explode."
On Saturday, three journalists from the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph were expelled for "foul and abusive" language about the Pakistani leadership that officials said appeared in an editorial run on November 9. A spokeswoman for the newspaper group in London declined to comment.
Bhutto, the Pakistani politician most capable of rousing mass protests, was stopped from leaving her Islamabad residence on Friday to lead a rally in neighbouring Rawalpindi, where police used tear gas to disperse her followers.
A detention order against her was later lifted due in part to pressure from the United States, but when she tried on Saturday to visit Pakistan's deposed chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, who has been under house arrest for the past week, she was stopped from approaching his house.