Islamabad: The New York-based woman at the centre of a controversy over her purported wedding with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has said that has never even met the Pakistani leader.
Tanveer Zamani, the physician and Pakistan People`s Party activist whom some hitherto unknown blogs and websites had named as Zardari`s purported wife, said: "I explicitly and clearly deny being married or being subject to a proposal or notion of being married to the Pakistani President, whom I hold in high esteem".
In an e-mail sent to the media, Zamani added: "I have never met President Zardari and the only reason I have refrained from commenting on an Internet hoax involving me is because I deemed it against my dignity to respond to such a hoax".
"Bloggers and journalists do not have the right to make up stories and disrupt the lives of people," she said. The News daily reported on its website that Zamani had said this was her "first ever denial on the matter while rumours and e-mails about her wedding have been in circulation for the last three weeks".
The PPP has condemned the Internet rumour about Zardari`s "secret" remarriage as a "vicious and unethical tirade".
PPP secretary-general Jahangir Badar told the media that Zardari, while chairing a meeting of the party`s top leadership yesterday, had made it clear that he was "married to the mission" of his slain wife, former premier Benazir Bhutto.
A New York-based legal firm acting for the Bhutto-Zardari family has served a notice on the Jang group, the publishers of The News, for carrying reports about the purported wedding.
The notice said a lawsuit seeking over USD 100 million in damages will be filed if the media group did not offer an apology.
The News reported that some US-based Pakistanis regarded Zamani`s initial silence over the rumours of her wedding as "her own ploy to seek the attention" of Zardari.
"Why and how a dignified and educated Pakistani woman can ignore, keep silent over all such e-mails and rumours about her wedding with the President of Pakistan. “
“She has been avoiding to make any categorical denial to journalists when she was approached for her version or denial," the report quoted unnamed US-based Pakistanis as saying.
Since her active participation in the PPP`s activities in the US, Zamani has been a highly vocal `jiyali` (follower) of Zardari and the party, the report said.
Zamani "invited hostility" from some PPP co-workers, who started a "campaign of nasty emails against her," it added. "This e-mail war has been on for the last five months. Some Internet surfers sent emails/comments about her passion for the personality of President Zardari," the report contended.
Zamani`s efforts to meet Zardari during his last visit to the US failed.
"Factually, during her activism, she has never met Asif Zardari," the report said.
Her meetings with presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar and a few PPP ministers are recorded in photos posted on Zamani`s Facebook page.
Zamani has also spent a "lot of money" on her websites, interviews and statements to publicise her pictures and speeches, the report said.
The rumour about the purported wedding is not new as it had been circulated on Facebook and other websites and blogs for the past few weeks.
When Zardari travelled to the UAE after visiting the US last month, a bogus e-mail was circulated that Zamani had gone with him to Dubai where "arrangements for a quiet wedding" were made.