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Monday, February 7, 2011

Zardari still widower of BB??

We had internally decided to steer clear of commenting on the rumours circulating on the internet - apparently for a few months now though they seem to have got more notice in the last few days - about President Asif Zardari's alleged secret marriage to a Pakistani-American physician Dr. Tanveer Zamani. The reasons for this were rather simple: in the absence of any credible evidence (even the blogs asserting this information admitted that they had no real evidence and were basing their claims on hearsay), any comment would be mere speculation and not a lot different from tabloid sleaze.

Secondly, there's a tricky line here between 'public interest' and using someone's entirely private life to somehow discredit them in the eyes of some. Although it can be argued that Zardari re-marrying could impact national politics and thus be of 'public interest', until that information is confirmed, it remains within the realm of the millions of unverified rumours circulating in cyberspace that don't necessarily deserve the attention of responsible media. To be absolutely truthful, we were wary also of this being some sort of orchestrated smear campaign, and since we could neither confirm or deny the rumours, we thought it best to not to indulge in wild speculation.

Of course, no such qualms for The News' Group EditorShaheen Sehbai, who decided to append his name to a curiously full-of-innuendo-but-short-of-anything-definitestory in the paper today (an Urdu version also appeared in Jang). Most of it was lifted straight from the questionable blogs (all of which carry the same story in the same words and which Pakistan Media Watch has also commented on) but his one value addition was that he spoke to the lady in question, who bizarrely remained non-committal in her answers. Of course, with the story appearing in a mainstream publication, this has only opened the floodgates to further speculation, now with other blogs and even international news agencies feeling it kosher to jump on to the bandwagon.

We still do not have any credible evidence either way and do not wish to be drawn to comment on the authenticity of the story. All we have been able to glean about Dr. Zamani's background is that she joined one of the three factions of the terribly fractured Pakistan People's Party in the US in 2009, that she quite obviously has tried to model her appearance on the late Benazir Bhutto and is reputed to be a bit of an attention-seeker.

However, what we can confirm is that Dr. Tanveer Zamani has sent the following email directly to the press, from her own email address, in response to Sehbai's story:

"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 beneath 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. 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."

We can also confirm through our sources that the Jang Group has been served a legal notice by the "Bhutto-Zardari" family through their representative Mark Siegel and the legal firm of LockeLordBissell&Liddell. The notice demands of the Jang Group to immediately publish a "retraction and apology" for the "libelous" article, which it terms based on "a complete lie that was fostered by an internet hoax." The letter states:

"Publication of such a non-sourced fabrication was not only reckless, it was malicious. President Zardari has never met Dr. Zamani, and Dr. Zamani has confirmed such to Mr. Siegel."

The notice further says that in case such a retraction and apology is not immediately published, legal action will be initiated...

"...for libel, malicious publication and intentional infliction of emotional distress in all jurisdictions where your newspaper is published, as well as any jurisdiction in which your paper has assets. This lawsuit will seek in excess of $100 million, which the Bhutto-Zardari family would donate to the victims of the 2010 floods in Pakistan."

A copy of the legal notice with some initial mistakes (Shaheen Sehbai's name, his email address, date of publication of the story, supposedly subsequently corrected) is reproduced below:

The legal notice to the Jang Group

By Shaheen SehbaFriday, February 04, 2011

Readers may draw their conclusions whether journalistic ethics demanded that Shaheen Sehbai and the Jang Group gather some more evidence before publishing the story. It would do well to recall that under libel laws, the defence that you are merely repeating what has been said by someone else or published elsewhere, is no defence at all.
See the reaction of Tanveer Zamani 

WASHINGTON: Dr Tanveer Zamani, a practicing surgeon and a PPP activist in the US, and Farahnaz Ispahani, PPP MNA and a close aide of President Asif Ali Zardari, have commented differently on a flood of reports and blogs on the Internet which refer to the possibility that Mr Zardari may have secretly married again.

The Sindh Medical College graduate, in her late 40s, who did her PhD in political science from Ireland in 1996, before moving to US for practicing is of Mediterranean descent and reportedly lives in Gramercy Park, Manhattan, New York. Many websites claim that she owns estates in London, Dubai, Islamabad and Manhattan.

She is also is a known Democrat and supported Obama’s 2008 election campaign. She actively participated in Obama’s Health Care reform bill to make it a law.

Talking to me on Thursday morning when I called her on her toll free phone, she responded to my questions in a rather roundabout way.

I confirmed twice that she was Dr Zamani. Her voice was the same as in many U-Tube videos. I introduced myself and asked her one simple question: “There is a lot of buzz on the Internet about a personal matter about you, would you like to confirm

or deny it.” I did not mention the subject. Dr Zamani said she would not say anything but she had sought legal advice on the matter. I then asked directly that this was about her alleged link to Mr Zardari and a very personal matter, so what was illegal about it and why she had sought legal advice?

She said: “Personal matters are a very low priority. We have to handle the Egypt situation, the prices situation (in Pakistan), introduce Bilawal as the PPP leader, and many other issues. Personal issues come very low on my priority.”

After this strange response, I asked her again: “Are you Mrs Zardari.” She said: “I would not comment on it.” I again said was it anything illegal that she had done. She said I have sought legal advice on how to handle the situation. “So you would not deny or confirm,” I asked. She said: No comment. I thanked her, wondering whether I had just completed the first interview of Pakistan’s prospective First Lady.

Reports circulating widely on the numerous blogs say recently she has been prohibited to attend public political meetings due to her security issues. In one such report it has been alleged that President Zardari in a meeting with Obama on 1/14/11 in DC, requested his help in acquiring security for Dr Zamani. No one would confirm this information.

But on Thursday a categorical denial on this subject came from the Presidency and PPP MNA Farahnaz Ispahani., who also has been a spokesperson for the President and the PPP at some time.

Presidency spokesman Farhatulla Babar rejected the reports about president’s marriage.

He said these speculative reports were the figment of a sick imagination, showing that the president’s opponent’s had chosen to target his personal life.

In a brief message posted on a blog Farahnaz posted from her email ( at 7:03 pm Pakistan time: “President Asif Ali Zardari is the widower of Shaheed Muhtarma Benazir Bhutto. His marital status remains that of a widower”. “This is another nasty, pernicious rumour started by opponents to hurt the President, his family and the Party. It is a baseless rumour”.
Here i am posting an interview of Tanveer Zamani Read it:

Mr. President- Congratulations/ Now be a man! / Tanveer Zamani Interview

Shazia Nawaz
February 6th, 2011

I have to be crazy to be up at 1 am and writing all this when I have to be at work early in the morning. And let’s face it, patients like to see their doctors fresh and rested, so I should finish this quickly.  It’s too late and I’m too tired, so my advance apologies for all the typing and grammar errors I am going to make here.

The topic is too interesting and excitement is too much. I can not sleep on it. Guess who I spoke with?  Yes, Dr. Tanveer Zamani.  Or should I call her Dr. Tanveer  Zamani  Zardari?

When I read Farah Naz Isphahani’s statement denying Zamani’s marriage to Zardari, I was shocked. No, not because she denied it, but because of the way she denied it.  Isphahani was angered by this marriage. She called Zardari a widower and sort of expressed that she likes that status of his. Mr. Husain Haqqani, one of my favorite intellectuals of the country, too was angered by the marriage.
It is political jealousy. Couple holds political jealousy towards Zamani. How would I know?
I just spoke with the lady and she thinks so.
Zamani picks up the phone if you call her toll free number given on her Facebook page. I introduced myself and to my surprise, she knew me well. She has been watching my YouTube show and has been reading me on all the APPNA lists and blogs for a while now.
I have to admit, I was flattered.
Would not you be?
I found her beautiful and graceful in all her videos on YouTube. She has studied too much but yet has been able to maintain her beauty. Spotless skin and slim figure.  Stress did no harm.
Zamani agreed to interview for my blog.  She trusted me since we have a lot in common and we had chemistry. We have same profession, good looks, and we both seek publicity. 

Not a cheap one though she said. And I agreed. Neither of us would do it.  I, and she said that she, would not make up a rumor like this just to promote herself.
She did not make a rumor. She indeed is married to our president.

No, she did not say it like that. But she said it in so many words.
ME: So, are you married to Zardari?
Her:  I would not comment on that.

That was not an acceptable answer. Cutting it short for you readers, she does not deny it but actually accepts it in so many words.
It was 13th of january when Zardari landed at JFK and only Haqqani was there this time to receive him, along with three bodyguards.   Although Haqqani flew with Zardari alone from JFK to Washington, DC, but Zardari was not willing to share the matters of heart with Haqqani. No good man would share matters of his heart with any other man. 

They met Obama the next day. And guess what Zardari asked for?  Security for Tanveer Zamani.
That information almost gave me tears in my eyes. The man cares about her.  Guess who was there listening to this request?
Our very smart ambassador who they say later leaked the info out. 
“ It has to be him. since he was the only third person there,” Zamani says.

Haqqani dropped Zardari off at JFK to go back to Pakistan. He does not know where Zardari went.
He went to Dubai to marry Zamani.  “There were more animals in the wedding than humans,”  Zamani joked. But she made that joke based on the article on the net that mentions number of animals sacrificed that day. 
  If I was upset at Farah Naz Isphahani’s anger at this marriage, Zamani has to be too.
Why in the world party insists on keeping the man single?
Why has he been told to deny the rumor?  Why are they pressurizing him so much?  Why is Haqqani constantly calling Zamani on the phone and telling her not to talk to people and deny the rumor?
Neither myself nor Zamani liked it.  Does Haqqani himself not enjoy the marital bliss with a wonderful and cute woman?  Would it be better for Zardari to stray instead of marrying one woman to fulfill his needs?
A blogger has been writing for months about their affair, Zamani said. Blogger has written it all. How they met and how it all started. How he was a playboy and changed and how he started smiling instead of laughing aloud. Then why does Haqqani have to come out and say that Zardari has never even met Zamani?
It would break my heart to think that Haqqani lied.  I truly like him. I liked/like Salman Taseer a lot more. But then Haqqani is all we have left now when it comes to intellectuals.  He is no match for Salman Taseer though, God bless ST’s soul.
So, does Haqqani know that Zamani and Zardari have met?  A brilliant mind as he is, he has to know after watching Zardari asking for extra security for Zamani.

Zamani said that she would not confirm the news. Plan was to keep it a secret for 2 years. Why so?
ME:  I do not understand how in the world bright and mature children of a widower would be upset if their father re-married
HER:  He is hiding it because he gets votes as BB’s widower.

But then she said that she is not saying that ‘he’s hiding it’. But if he was hiding it, this is why he would be.

When did it become a crime to remarry for a widower?
Why would we not vote for him if he went ahead and did it the Islamic way instead of doing ‘it’ randomly?

HER:  Would you not like a woman like me in A- WANE- SADAR?
Regardless of the news being true or not.
ME:  I most certainly would.

Me: So, you are married then and this is why you are not denying it?
I became direct again.

She said again, “I am not going to be Bill Clinton. So, I am going to stay quiet instead of denying it first and then accepting it later.”

I tried to be tricky and clever, “ So, who leaked the wedding news?”
She said, “The designer. We go to other countries and go around like no one knows us.”

Was I too clever or did she tell me that on purpose?

Then she added, “I am too busy at work, since I was away for so many days and my work piled up.”

Me:  So, do you love him, or are you just marrying him for money?

Her:  Shazia, you and me, we are both doctors in USA.  We earn in dollars and we pay taxes in dollars. His pay is less than my pay. 
Me: But he has billions.

Her:  Everyone knows my loyalty to him. My father yelled and yelled. My mom said that he is a bad person and he is very ameer (rich).
And I said, “if he is Ameer, I would make him Ameer-ul-Momeeneen.”
I would take a bullet for him. People say that if he was good enough for BB and if he is good enough for me, he must be a good person. After all, we see something in him.

ME:  So, you married him then?

HER: I said no comments.

In the end, we had heart to heart conversation. I told her that how if a guy does not stand by you after marrying you and denies it, he is not worthy of you. I shared the story of that Indian politician with her, who became a Muslim to marry his mistress and later divorced her under pressure. 
Zamani sounded worried.

She thinks that it is rivalry that is making the ambassador and his Mrs. deny this marriage. Of course, regardless of the fact if she is married or not.

Her: I mean, it broke my heart. There is no woman in A-WANE-SADER. Do they not want any woman there?  would it not be good for our people if a woman like me is there?  Everyone knows my dedication to him and to the party.

Well,  at 2 AM in the morning, when I finish writing this, I ask Mr. President to be a man and accept his wife.  It would not take your votes away, if corruption did not. Corruption should have though.
No wise children would expect their father to be single for life. That is plain cruel.

In the end I asked, “So, is he a good kisser?”  Now I was going all American on her. She laughed at this question.

Zamani did not understand the statement that FN Isphahani made to her husband,  “ Zamani is a dignified woman. She would not do it”.

  I simply do not like that statement. Dignified women do not fall in love and do not marry?

In the end, it was difficult to tell if I was too clever to get all the info from her or she did that on purpose. Either way, world should know her thoughts, and Zardari, if really has married her, should come out and accept it.
Payar kia hay chori nahi kee

Disclaimer:  PPP denies this marriage in the strongest possible terms. They are outraged by this rumor and call it a publicity stunt by Dr. Zamani.  Only God (and Zamani and Zardari) knows the truth.  My apologies to everyone whose feelings are hurt by this interview. My intentions were good.

Addendum:  And now I hear that she already has a husband and is married. She said a lot of things during her interview as I mentioned above but word “husband” was not said by her even once. Oh well!

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