Bilawal, Sherry to attend Obama’s ‘prayer breakfast’

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WASHINGTON: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Sherry Rehman will attend the US National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, while former president Asif Ali Zardari will also be in town but will not participate in the event.

US President Barack Obama will be the chief guest and the main speaker at this annual event. Every US president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has participated in the prayer breakfast.

The Fellowship Founda­tion, a Christian organisation that promotes religious harmony, hosts the prayer breakfast on behalf of members of the US Congress.

Since 1980s, it is held at the Washington Hilton, the site of the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981.

Pakistani politicians, social and religious leaders are often invited to this event and all, except former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, claim that they are guests of the US president. Benazir Bhutto, although a regular guest at this event, always clarified that the US president was also a guest, and not the host.

This year, reports in the Pakistani media not only repeated the mistake of claiming that Mr Obama is hosting the breakfast but also claimed that Bilawal and Asif Zardari would meet President Obama and other US officials at or after the breakfast and brief them on the current situation in Pakistan.

The report claimed that PPP leaders would urge Mr Obama to help end the alleged victimisation of his party leaders during the current anti-terrorism campaign.

The report forced Ms Rehman to clarify that the party would never drag President Obama or the US government into Pakistan’s internal political affairs.

“We don’t dine out on our country’s troubles in other countries,” she said, adding that there were several platforms at home, including the parliament, where the party continues to express its views on all issues.

Ms Rehman said that she and Bilawal Zardari would speak at the US Institute of Peace later this week but not about the operation in Karachi, as some media reports erroneously claimed.