Pakistan's military rulers tonight postponed indefinitely the general elections scheduled for Oct. 18.
Gen. Mohammad Ziaul-Har, army chief and martial law ruler, said in a broadcast that a new date will be fixed after verdicts are given in criminal cases involving former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and after the income declarations of candidates for Parliament have been checked.
Any candidate who appears to have enriched himself by dishonest means would be barred from running, Zia said in a televised address.
"The very existence and integrity of the country is at stake," he said, adding that political activity is creating a situation that "threatens law and order."
Zia and other military commanders deposed Bhutto July 5, ending four months of bloddy political strife touched off by opposition charges that Bhutto's Pakistan People's party had rigged national elections last March.
Zia then scheduled new elections for Oct. 18, piting the People's Party and the opposition Pakistan National Alliance coalition.
A postponement had been widely expected after Zia announced two weeks ago that Bhutto, 49, must clear himself before the elections of allegations stemming from his five and a half years in power.
The former prime minister is facing possible charges over a political murder three years ago and gal detention of political rivals. Other cases alleging corruption and high treason and pending.
The supreme court is currently hearing a petition challenging the army's authority to arrest Bhutto and 10 other leading officials of his party.
Bhutto's wife, Nusrat, who took over as acting chairman of the party, has told campaign rallies that a postponement of the elections could lead to revolution and chaos.
Mrs. Bhutto was warned by the army on Thursday to stop making statements considered provocative. Her elder daughter, Benazir, was placed under house arrest for four days for making similar statements.