Bhutto visits family mausoleum
Former PM makes first trip outside Karachi since assassination attempt.
|Security at the Bhutto family mausoleum near Larkana town was tight for the visit [AFP]
Benazir Bhutto, the former Pakistani prime minister, has visited her father’s mausoleum in southern Pakistan, making her first public journey outside Karachi since an assassination attempt on her that killed at least 139 people.
Hundreds of her Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) supporters gathered as Bhutto arrived in the village of Garhi Khuda Baksh in a bullet-proof vehicle at the tomb of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, also a former Pakistani leader.
“It’s a long time since I’ve been here and I thank God for giving me the opportunity to put my feet on my homeland once again, to see the love of my people,” Bhutto said during her flight from Karachi to the southern province of Sindh.
“This has strengthened me to do what I can to save Pakistan by saving democracy, which is so essential to giving people safety, security and better prospects,” she added.
Bhutto draped a shawl inscribed with Islamic verses on her father’s grave and sprinkled it with rose petals.
Hundreds of security forces were deployed at Sukkur airport, where Bhutto’s aircraft journey, on Saturday after last week’s suicide attack marred her return to Pakistan following eight years of self-imposed exile.
At least one suicide bomber attacked her convoy in Karachi as it travelled through a huge crowd of her supporters.
“Ours is a bold leader. If she is not scared we are also not scared,” said Imdad Chandio, a PPP supporter, at Sukkur airport.
“Perhaps Bhutto should have listened to Musharraf and delayed her return to Pakistan until the volatile security situation was better”
ndur5, Irving, US
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Since the bombings at a procession to celebrate her return, Bhutto has spent most of her time behind reinforced doors in her Karachi residence.
On Friday she said she would also travel to the cities of Lahore and Islamabad, and also wanted to visit Pakistan-administered parts of Kashmir and tribal areas along the Afghan border, where the army has clashed with pro-Taliban fighters.
Her prime minister father was removed in military coup usurped and later hanged in 1979.
The site is also the resting place of Bhutto’s two brothers – Shahnawaz, who was poisoned in southern France in 1987, and Murtaza, shot dead in Karachi in 1996.
Bhutto has accused elements in the government and security services of trying to kill her, as well as pro-Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters.
She has demanded that international experts join the investigation into the attempt on her life – a call the government rejected.
The bombing has raised concerns that fear of more attacks would restrict the campaign for January parliamentary elections.