Pakistan's government is considering imposing emergency rule, the country's information minister has said.
Tariq Azeem conceded that the issue was being discussed, as Pakistani TV channels reported that a declaration state of emergency was imminent.
An emergency would limit the role of the courts, restrict civil liberties and curb freedom of expression.
Earlier, Pakistan's president said he would not attend a tribal council in Afghanistan on combating the Taleban.
General Pervez Musharraf pulled out of the three-day council, or jirga, citing commitments in Islamabad.
Gen Musharraf faces a volatile political and security situation after a siege at a radical Islamabad mosque and protests by lawyers angry at the sacking of the country's chief justice.
Opposition to Mr Musharraf's rule has also increased.
"The possibility of the enforcement of emergency, like other possibilities, is under discussion," Information Minster Tariq Azeem said, although he said an emergency might not eventually be declared.
He admitted US threats to launch an operation in the tribal areas and the recent targeting of Chinese nationals had played a role in the issue being discussed.
"In addition, the situation on the borders and the suicide attacks are also a concern," Mr Azeem added.
A meeting of senior government officials headed by President Musharraf was expected to be held on Thursday to decide the issue.
Under an emergency, powers to detain citizens would be extended and parliament could extend its tenure by a year.
Observers believe if Gen Musharraf opts for emergency rule it would primarily affect the powers of the increasingly hostile judiciary.
Additionally, it would allow the president to postpone national elections due to be held later in 2007.
This could enable him to continue in his role as chief of Pakistan's powerful military.
Opposition political parties, like Pakistan's largest party, the PPP, want Gen Musharraf to give up the role.
"The emergency is a big step and the government should think twice before enforcing it," says former Prime Minister and PPP leader Benazir Bhutto.
"I hope such a drastic step will not take place.
"It will be a retrogressive step taking the country backwards."
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