Islamabad: Pope Francis is set to visit Pakistan this year on his first-ever trip to the Islamic nation, officials said on Thursday.
The invitation by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the Head of Catholic Church was extended by Ports and Shipping Minister Kamran Michael – the only Christian minister in the current government – and Religious Affairs Minister Sardar Yusuf during a meeting in Vatican last month.
Officials said that Pope accepted the invitation extended on behalf of Sharif.
“It is true that Pope has accepted the invitation and the dates of the trip will be finalised by mutual consultation,” an official of religious ministry said.
He said the Pope will meet Prime Minister Sharif and President Mamnoon Hussain.
He will also hold extensive interactions with the minority Christian community of the country, majority of them Catholic, besides visiting a Church.
Christians of Pakistan are pushing to declare Shahbaz Bhatti, killed in 2011 for demanding reform in the country’s controversial blasphemy laws, as a saint and they expect some positive gesture by the Pope during the visit.