Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has a black goat slaughtered at his house almost every day to ward off "evil eyes" and protect him from "black magic", a newspaper reported on Wednesday.
A spokesman for the president told the Dawn newspaper the goats were slaughtered as an act of Sadaqah -- meaning "voluntary charity" in Islam whereby one gives out money or the meat of a slaughtered animal to the poor to win Allah's blessing and stave off misfortune.
"It has been an old practice of Zardari to offer Sadaqah. He has been doing this for a long time," the spokesman, Farhatullah Babar, told the paper.
Pakistan is a predominantly Muslim country where many of the well-off offer Sadaqah. Though Muslim, many people also follow certain superstitious practices.
Hundreds of goats had been sacrificed at Zardari's house since he was sworn in September 2008, the Dawn newspaper reported.
It said Zardari's detractors would see in his "new-found religiosity" a sign of nervousness in the face of growing woes.
Zardari, who rose to power after the assassination of his wife, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, in late 2007, has become increasingly unpopular and faces a range of problems from Islamist militancy to a stagnant economy and political rivalry.
A Supreme Court ruling last month throwing out an amnesty for Zardari, several top aides and thousands of political activists and government figures triggered a political storm and expectation that Zardari was on his way out.
It has been an old practice of Zardari to offer Sadaqah. He has been doing this for a long time
Farhatullah Babar, spokesman of Pakistani president