Pakistan renames capital's airport after Bhutto

Pakistan's new government has renamed the international airport in the capital Islamabad after Benazir Bhutto, as people commemorated the birthday of the slain former prime minister on Saturday.

Bhutto, whose party heads the ruling coalition, was killed in a suicide gun and bomb attack after she addressed an election rally in the garrison town of Rawalpindi on December 27.

Bhutto's party has planned gatherings across Pakistan on Saturday to celebrate her life and political martyrdom, while her widower, Asif Ali Zardari, was due to attend a ceremony at her ancestral village of Garhi Khuda Baksh, where she is buried.

A wave of sympathy helped Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party win the February 18 election.

"She is not amongst us today, yet she lives in the hearts and memory of the people of Pakistan," Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said in a statement issued on the eve of her 55th birthday after he had renamed Islamabad International airport as Benazir Bhutto International.

The airport is actually on the outskirts in Rawalpindi, Islamabad's larger neighbour.

The Rawalpindi hospital where Bhutto was taken after the attack was also renamed after her as was the main road linking the city to the nearby hill resort of Murree.

Pakistan has formally requested a UN investigation into Bhutto's assassination.

President Pervez Musharraf, whose allies were defeated in the February elections, has opposed a UN investigation and the previous government blamed Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud of being behind the conspiracy to kill Bhutto.

The PPP harbours deep suspicion over the official findings and doubts whether Mehsud, who has denied involvement, was the real culprit.