Islamabad: Annoyed by the "gutter media campaign" against his plan to get married for a third time, Pakistan's flamboyant cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan on Tuesday asked if he had "sold" state secrets to India or "laundered" the country's wealth to deserve a bad press.
Breaking his silence over reports of his "marriage" to his spiritual guru Bushra Maneka, Pakistan's Opposition leader blamed ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and owner of a private media house for the "vicious, gutter media campaign" against him in recent days.
In a series of tweets, the 65-year-old former cricket captain said that he was only concerned about "his children and the very conservative family of Bushra begum."
He alleged that the "vicious, gutter media campaign" was being led by NS [Nawaz Sharif] and MSR [Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman], adding that it did not bother him. Shakil-ur-Rahman is the founder of Geo Television Network.
In another tweet, he told "NS & MSR" that their vicious campaign has only strengthened his resolve to fight them.
Attacking Sharif, Imran Khan said: "I have known the Sharifs for 40 years and I know all their sordid personal lives, but I would never stoop to the level of exposing these sordid details."
"For 3 days I have been wondering have I looted a bank; or money laundered bns in nation's wealth; or ordered a model-town-like killing spree; or revealed state secrets to India? I have done none of these but discovered I have committed a bigger crime: wanting to get married," he said.
Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court last year in the Panama Papers case. The Sharif family is facing three corruption cases linked to the scandal.
"All I ask of my well wishers and supporters is that they pray I find personal happiness which, except for a few years, I have been deprived of," Khan added.
Khan had first tied the knot with Jemima Goldsmith in 1995 that ended in divorce after nine years in 2004. His second marriage was with Reham Khan, then a TV anchor, which lasted barely 10 months.
Khan's angry tweets came hours after Sharif, while speaking to the media outside an accountability court in Islamabad, said that it was "sad that Khan has gone into hiding" [since the marriage rumours] and left the alleged wife's children to give explanations.
"What sort of person he is who hides like a coward while leaving an innocent family to face rumours," he said.
"If he [Khan] has done something like this [gotten married], he should come out and admit it," Sharif said.
Rumours of Khan's alleged third marriage to his "faith healer" had circulated in the media after a report surfaced in The News on Saturday.
On Sunday, Khan's political party, the Pakistan Tehreeke-Insaf (PTI) had issued a notification saying that Khan has proposed marriage to Bushra Maneka, believed to be a respected Pir (faith healer) in Pakpattan.
However, the notification had added that Bushra Maneka has yet to accept the marriage proposal. She will make a final decision after consulting her family, including her children.
The statement insisted that the PTI chief would announce it publicly if Bushra Maneka accepted the marriage proposal.
Bushra Maneka, who is in her 40s, is from the Wattoo clan, of which the Manekas are a sub-clan. She was married to Khawar Farid Maneka, a senior customs official in Islamabad, the Dawn newspaper reported.