In the exchange of official gifts, President Zardari gave the pope a rug from his country, and in return the pope gave him a portrait of St. Peter’s Square and medals from his pontificate.
Pakistan is one of a handful of countries in the world that calls itself an Islamic republic. It means that Islam, the majority religion, is a cornerstone element of Pakistan’s government.
In recent months, Christians have been persecuted more and more in Pakistan. Last month Benedict sent a telegram to the Bishop of Faisalabad expressing solidarity after seven Christians were burnt alive in Pakistan.
About 2.8 million people, just over 1% of the total population of Pakistan, is Christian making it a vulnerable demographic to extremist groups in the country.