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Pakistan's Bhutto Visits Father's Grave Under Heavy Security

Pakistan's former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has visited her family's ancestral village and the grave of her father in southern Pakistan, where she was greeted by thousands of supporters. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from Islamabad that security for her visit was tight following last week's deadly bombing in Karachi, but Ms. Bhutto said she was satisfied with the protection the government had provided.

Ms. Bhutto arrived at her father's tomb in the village of Garhi Khuda Baksh in a bulletproof vehicle escorted by armed security forces.

It was her first visit to the vast mausoleum built to house the bodies of her father, grandfather and two brothers. After reading the Koran and sprinkling rose petals on the graves, she said she wanted to tell her supporters that she is glad to be back.

"I want to tell them it's wonderful to be home, to see the sugar cane fields, to see the paddy fields and to breathe the air from which I come," she said.

After spending years in exile, Ms. Bhutto returned home earlier this month through an apparent power-sharing arrangement with President Pervez Musharraf. Since then she has become a fierce critic of the government and its handling of the deadly suicide bomb attack in Karachi on the day of her return.

She has blamed the bombing on political opponents of her father, former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who lost power in a military coup in 1977 and was later hanged. She also has asked that U.S. and British investigators be involved in the inquiry into the Karachi attack.

Pakistani officials have flatly denied the request, but this week the lead investigator in the case stepped down following criticism from Ms. Bhutto.

There also has been controversy over the security arrangements for political rallies in the upcoming campaign season. The former prime minister said that after days of complaints, she is now satisfied with the government's protection.

"Security arrangements have been up and down. There have been days when I have felt very insecure but as of last night, things have started falling into place and I'm satisfied with the security arrangements," she added.

Pakistani officials this week suggested political parties hold rallies at fixed locations, not rolling parades, to improve security during what is expected to be an intense campaign season. National elections are expected in early January.