Pakistan's presidency has refuted media reports about a purported rift between President Asif Ali Zardari and his sister-in-law Sanam Bhutto, saying they were intended to damage the Bhutto family and cause a split in the ruling Pakistan People's Party.
Sanam Bhutto, the sister of Zardari's slain wife Benazir Bhutto, had denied giving any interview to journalist Daphne Barak which was the basis of the reports in the Pakistani media, presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said in a statement issued in Islamabad on Wednesday.
Barak had indicated on her website that her next exclusive would be an expose of how much support the Bhuttos are giving Zardari at a time of 'chaos in Pakistan'.
But Babar said media reports in this regard were based on a 'concocted and fictitious interview' of Sanam. 'It is most unfortunate that a section of the media lent space to a fictitious interview only to damage the Bhutto family, paint the PPP leadership black and cause rift in the party,' he said.
In a separate statement, Sanam Bhutto said the allegations made in the media were a 'total fabrication and a vicious attack on me, my family and the memory of Benazir Bhutto'.
Sanam Bhutto: 'There was no interview with Daphne Barak and each insinuation is a complete fabrication. Daphne Barak was never a friend of my beloved sister Benazir Bhutto. They first met for an interview 15 years ago. Ms Barak, being a socialite, remained an acquaintance. She knows nothing about my sister or about our family's relationships. She is not, as is suggested, in any way an insider of the Bhutto family on any issue.'
Sanam, who lives in London, said she was on 'excellent terms' with Zardari and had 'no property or financial issues with him'.
Views attributed to her nephew and PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari too are a figment of the imagination 'designed to damage our family and create a rift in the PPP', she added.
She also said Barak knew 'nothing about events surrounding' Benazir's assassination in December 2007. 'Any suggestion otherwise is a blatant attempt to exploit and ingratiate herself for her own purposes into what is a serious investigation by the UN of the assassination,' she said.
The media reports are a source of 'immense anguish' to the children of Benazir Bhutto and the 'Bhutto family stands united with President Zardari at this critical juncture when the nation faces serious internal and external threats,' said Sanam.