The ruling Pakistan People's Party has condemned an Internet rumour that its chief, President Asif Ali Zardari, has secretly remarried three years after the assassination of his wife Benazir Bhutto, describing it as a "vicious and unethical tirade".
The rumour, floated on several hitherto unheard of blogs and websites late on Wednesday, claimed Zardari had married Tanveer Zamani, a New York-based physician and PPP loyalist.
The rumour was laced with innuendoes, including a claim that the so-called wedding was solemnised according to Shia customs.
Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said: "The Pakistan People's Party deplores and condemns the launch of a vicious and unethical tirade on the net against PPP co-chairman, President Asif Ali Zardari, insinuating that the President had recently re-married secretly."
"Such personal attacks from anonymous sources can only be launched by those suffering from diseased minds and sickly souls," he said in a statement.
"The latest tirade based on lies and showing how low the detractors of President Zardari can stoop and how much they are consumed by their hatred is condemned in the strongest possible terms," Babar said.
All the websites and blogs that featured the rumour about the "marriage" carried an identical post which claimed no public ceremony was held to mark the wedding.
It described Zamani as "a Mediterranean descent American resident" who lives in Gramercy Park, Manhattan, New York.
The post claimed Zamani had earned a PhD degree in International Politics from Britain and owns estates in London, Dubai, Islamabad and Manhattan.
The post further claimed Zamani had been prohibited from attending "public political meetings due to her security issues".
The News daily, which has been conducting an anti-Zardari campaign for the past year or so, reported that its correspondent in Washington had spoken to Zamani, who refused to comment when she was asked, "Are you Mrs Zardari?" Zamani also refused to comment when she was asked if she would confirm or deny the internet rumour.
Zamani told the newspaper she had sought legal advice on the matter.
Zardari was made chief of the PPP after Bhutto was assassinated shortly after addressing an election rally in Rawalpindi in December 2007. He was elected President after military dictator Pervez Musharraf resigned from the post in mid-2008.