Superstitious Politicians: Zardari’s Goat Sacrifice

By Sadie Bass

Jan 29, 2010 10:47am

ABC's Habibullah Khan reports from Islamabad, Pakistan: Politicians are no strangers to superstitious rituals - during Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, his chief strategist David Axelrod carried a pink quartz heart in his pocket to bring good luck, former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi was famous for consulting soothsayers and astrologers and Pakistan’s president Asif Ali Zardari has been slaughtering black goats every day since becoming President, in an attempt to ward off “the evil eye”. This particular practice in the Muslim faith is called ‘Sadaqa’, where an animal is slaughtered and its meat distributed among the poor to gain Allah’s blessings and protection from misfortune. “There are many religious traditions in Pakistan based on local culture and Sufi order,” says Samina Ahmed, Head of the International Crisis Group in Pakistan. In a speech made to his party members in Lahore early this month,  Zardari  said that the ‘pen’ and the ‘Bayonet’ are after him (implying Judiciary and the Military), but he vowed that he will fight on. Zardari  also talks often about of “conspiracies being hatched against him.”  With the ‘pen’ and the ‘bayonet’ against him in his own words, he certainly needs that blessing and protection more than ever.  Pakistan being a parliamentary form of government, the President’s position is that of a figurehead but successive military coups have given the president more powers. Furthermore, in addition to his official position Zardari also holds the office of the co-chairman of Pakistan People’s Party, a post he shares with his young son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. A position that makes him a central figure in all key government decisions, since his party is ruling the country. Apart from the previous government , no democratic government has ever completed its five-year term in office. Already there are rumors according to Ms Ahmed that “the present elected government may be overturned before half way through its term.” “The elected government is under a lot of pressure from many quarters, both internal and external,” Ahmed says. In order to cope with the pressure, it seems that Zardari cannot just rely on human help, and is seeking divine help as well.

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