This week, stories appeared that talked about a troubled marriage between Pakistan Tehreek-I-Insaaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, and Reham Khan. On Thursday, we heard that the popular union may soon come to an end. These stories were not reported in some weekly social magazine or a celebrity reality TV show, these made the national pages of prominent newspapers, were discussed on prime time talk shows and were prioritised over other, infinitely more pertinent, issues by the media.

The media’s undue fascination with Reham Khan has always been unseemly, but if could have been justified under the rubric of ‘political coverage’ as long as she remained active in politics and appeared as a political entity in her own right. Wild speculation over the health of her marriage – none of which has any political implications – is downright voyeuristic, and reduces the involved media houses to nothing more than cheap tabloids.

It is understood that celebrities and people in the public domain have to cede some portion of their life to the public, but as always the condition is that it needs to tastefully done. A feature on the Imran-Reham marriage, an article about their daily habits, perhaps even an interview on their life together, all these are acceptable means of celebrity coverage. Yet Pakistani media has it’s barometer of propriety out of order. Using meaningless tidbits such as the fact that Reham Khan’s twitter account has been deactivated or that Imran Khan’s ex wife posted pictures of him with their son on social networks, the media is spinning wild, unsubstantiated and scandalous tales - pure speculation done purely for ratings. The worst part is that this fetish overshadows other news stories, which get much less coverage than they deserve.

The media has never been able to figure out how to appropriately cover stories about women, especially slightly unconventional women, such as Ayyan Ali and Reham Khan. It is about time they get their bearings straight, and stop acting like bored gossiping housewives. They are the guardians of national accountability, the top watchdogs; the media houses need to appreciate their own worth.

The media’s indulgence in such behaviour is understandable since they are motivated by profit. The ratings rule and the media follows. The fact that the Pakistani people allow them to sustain such behaviour is the true tragedy here. Instead of commenting on and raising awareness for exigent issues the people would rather know the dirty, scandalous secrets of their leaders. This is a sickening habit that the nation needs to kick.