ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan's military is strong-arming the media in an attempt to stifle criticism of its behind-the-scenes political power ahead of next month's elections, an international watchdog said Monday.

The Vienna-based Independent Press Institute released a report documenting a nationwide campaign of intimidation, including everything from threats to abductions.

It cited the disappearance of journalist Gul Bokhari, who was abducted for several hours, and the assault of journalist Asad Kharal, who was roughed up in the eastern city of Lahore. Pakistan's powerful intelligence agency was suspected of involvement.

The IPI says it is "worried that the continued persecution of the independent media is designed to convey a clear message: that any criticism of the military's involvement in civilian affairs will have dire consequences for the survival of an independent press in Pakistan."