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President Asif Ali Zardari addresses a meeting in Islamabad.-Reuters/File photo

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari's love for horses has finally triumphed. Three horses recently joined camels, cows and goats kept at the animal yard in the President's House, has learnt from horse's mouth.

The last time he brought polo ponies to the hallowed official grounds of the Prime Minister's House in the 1990s, creating a scandal for his spouse, Benazir Bhutto. Now that he holds the reins of the state he could have his horses for riding for relaxation, a precaution perhaps because his real love is said to be polo.

His critics, now more vocal than in the 1990s, are well advised not to look the gift-horses in the mouth as they have come from Mona Depot, the Pakistan Army's horse breeding centre, near Sargodha.

The horses of Arabian breed, one male and two female, are being looked after by his old servant, Allah Ditta, who was caretaker of polo ponies over a decade ago.

Mr Zardari, sources in the presidency said, was quite conscious about his health and he opted for horse riding to keep himself physically fit.

His close aides said Mr Zardari often remained under stress of work and pressure mainly because of political uncertainties. “Whenever he is seen in the riding track it indicates that he is in a good mood and wants some relaxation,” they said.

This time he is said to be quite conscious about any scandal in the presidency and because of this he did not order for construction of a proper stable and a riding track on state expenses. The new horses are being kept under the already constructed shelter where horses of his guards are kept.

“There is no proper horse-riding track in the presidency, but a vast green area has been cleaned for a temporary track,” an insider said.

The president also has a camel which was brought to the presidency to get milk which is considered healthier than that of cow and buffalo. Camel milk is a staple food of desert nomad tribes and is richer in fat and protein than cow milk.

The President House also has a herd of black goats. One goat is slaughtered everyday when Mr Zardari is there.

Earlier, his trusted personal servant, Bai Khan, used to buy a goat from Saidpur village every day, but now a herd has been kept in the presidency to avoid frequent visit to the animal market. The animal is touched by Mr Zardari before it is sent to his private house in F-8/2 for slaughtering.