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In Pakistan, Bhutto's return stirring threats and allegations

The former prime minister has insinuated strongly that elements within the administration of President Pervez Musharraf were involved in last Thursday's attack.

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The government has vehemently denied any responsibility and said everything possible was done to protect Bhutto.

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The former prime minister sharpened her rhetoric Sunday, however, decrying "closet supporters of militants and Al Qaeda . . . determined to stop the restoration of democracy because they see it as a threat to the structure of militancy they have put into place."

The Guardian newspaper of Britain reports that Bhutto says her opponents are determined to prevent political change in the country.

She added that she believed her opponents were "petrified that the Pakistan People's party will return [to power] and that democracy will return".

Ms Bhutto's two governments, between 1988 and 1996, were toppled amid allegations of corruption and mismanagement.

She has returned to contest parliamentary elections due to take place in January, after months of power-sharing talks with the president, General Pervez Musharraf, that could see them forming an alliance in the next government.

However, any potential cooperation appears to have been strained by a war of words over who was responsible for Thursday's attack.

Speaking on CNN on Sunday, Rep. Peter Hoekstra, a Michigan Democrat, said the US should be worried about events in Pakistan, and that militants operating out of that country are also making the situation in Afghanistan worse. Mr. Hoekstra added that, with regard to terrorism, Musharraf "is doing everything that he can, but there are extreme limitations on that from the internal politics and the internal dynamics in Pakistan."

HOEKSTRA: Oh, I think we should be very worried about what's happening in Pakistan. Not that it means that it's on a path to an imminent collapse, but Pakistan is critical in us being successful in taking out and defeating radical Islamists and al Qaeda.

You know, the tribal areas are just adjacent to Afghanistan. I was there three weeks ago. You know, there (is a) continuing presence of al Qaeda in these ungoverned areas. It's making it more -- making it less stable in Afghanistan. You know, the plots that we have seen in the U.K., their roots come out of these tribal areas. It is the planning and the training ground for radical jihadists in their worldwide threat to the United States.

Meanwhile, Agence France Presse reports that the government has dispatched more troops to the northwest, near the border with Afghanistan, where Taliban and Al Qaeda-linked violence have been on the rise.

Paramilitary troops erected barricades and checkposts in the scenic Swat valley, where a pro-Taliban militant group has been blamed for a series of recent bloody attacks on police and government leaders, the official said.

"We have deployed a little over 2,000 troops to assist police and civil administration in the district," top military spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad told AFP.

Around 90,000 Pakistani troops are deployed in the lawless tribal zones where they have been waging battle against Al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked extremists.

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