Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib on Monday called out "certain quarters" for pushing "fake stories" about First Lady Bushra Bibi and asked them to stay away from "cheap tactics such as dragging an apolitical woman into politics".
The minister's remarks come after a report published in The Friday Times last week, which suggested that the first lady was currently living at a friend's place in Lahore after developing differences with PM Imran Khan.
"Trouble seems to be brewing on the home front. It’s no secret that Her Holiness has bolted. She’s said to be sulking in Lahore, at the home of a friend, also known as the Front Woman ... Our mole says there have been more than a few flaming rows on various issues," reads an excerpt from the report.
Although the report did not name the premier or his wife, it triggered a trend on Twitter today, prompting social media users to speculate about the premier's personal life.
In an interaction with journalists in Islamabad today, Habib said the government was well aware of certain elements spreading frivolous stories, which had no factual or moral grounds, about the premier's wife.
The first lady has no connection to politics at all, the minister said.
"These are the same people who had once indulged in the character assassination of Shaheed Bibi (late former prime minister Benazir Bhutto)," he said.
Without naming anyone, Habib asked those behind such stories to "refrain from dragging a domestic woman into politics for your ill ambitions".
Later in the day, PTI's Senator Faisal Javed called for legal action against those "spreading rumours" about the first lady.
Addressing a Senate session, Javed said a "sordid campaign" pertaining to PM Imran's personal life had been launched and "fictitious and demeaning rumours" were spread about Bushra Bibi.
Whereas the first lady, he added, never gave any political statements.
"Running such a campaign (against her) is the practice of those who do dirty politics. We know what this campaign is linked to," he said, without elaborating on the statement.
The senator said, "India has taken advantage of this (reports about the first lady) and ran a campaign as well."
He said those involved in this kind of "yellow journalism have no proof against PM Imran".
"Since PM Imran did not commit corruption, you make personal attacks on him," Javed said, noting that this was not in favour of the country.
'Legal action on fabricated news'
A day after the report was published on Friday, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill had also dispelled the impression that the first lady was living in another city and confirmed she was with the prime minister in Islamabad.
He clarified in a tweet that Bushra Bibi visited Lahore just for a week in the past year and "has not been to the city for the last few months".
He rejected the news item as baseless and said those spreading fake news will face legal action.
"We are already contesting a case against [senior journalist] Najam Sethi for sharing fabricated news about the prime minister and his wife," the PM's aide said.
Without naming anyone, Gill said: "You can do politics and journalism, but propagating fake news about family members who are not in politics will be dealt with in a court of law."