On April 29, 2018, Pakistani singer Meesha Shafi allegedly accused pop singer and sensation, Ali Zafar of sexual harassment of a physical nature on many occasions over the past several years on her twitter account.
Sharing this because I believe that by speaking out about my own experience of sexual harassment, I will break the culture of silence that permeates through our society. It is not easy to speak out.. but it is harder to stay silent. My conscience will not allow it anymore #MeToo pic.twitter.com/iwex7e1NLZ
— Meesha Shafi (@itsmeeshashafi) April 19, 2018
Meesha’s claim received mixed response. While some supported her for raising her voice against harassment in support of the global #MeToo campaign and speaking on such a sensitive issue, many ostracized her for throwing false allegations against Ali Zafar out of personal vendetta and exaggeration.
Ali Zafar refuted all claims of sexual harassment talking about his intention of battling this in court and his belief that truth always prevails.
— Ali Zafar (@AliZafarsays) April 19, 2018
Following Meesha’s statement, many women came out with their own woeful tales of harassment involving Ali Zafar.
Humna Raza shared her encounter with Ali Zafar a year and a half before when she asked him for a selfie and “felt his hand go up the side of her waist”.
— Humna Raza (@HumnaRaza) April 19, 2018
Leena Ghani, who is a makeup artist also accused Zafar of “Inappropriate contact,groping and sexual comments” and applauded Meesha Shafi for speaking up.
Thank you @itsmeeshashafi for your courage and your bravery. It’s never easy. But that should never silence us. I am in total solidarity with you. You are not alone in this because #Metoo #TimesUp #WeBelieveYou pic.twitter.com/hkQ61bqnFH
— Leena (@Leena_Ghani) April 19, 2018
Maham Javaid, a LUMS Alumni, recounted an experience her cousin had with the singing sensation and praised Meesha Shafi for encouraging her to speak up. She took to Twitter and wrote:
So @itsmeeshashafi‘s brave sharing of her experience reminded me of a story about @AliZafarsays from many many years ago, when Ali Zafar tried to kiss my cousin and pull my cousin into a restroom with him. Luckily my cousin’s friends were there to push Ali Zafar off https://t.co/kBQbBiwyFP
— Maham Javaid (@JMaham) April 19, 2018
Pakistani pop star, Momina Mustehsen, also came out in support of Meesha asking Ali Zafar to apologize profusely if he has done something wrong.
— Momina Mustehsan (@MominaMustehsan) April 20, 2018
She urged Ali to “take responsibility and make amends.”
Amidst these scarring allegations, many celebrities also came out in support of Ali Zafar. Maya Ali spoke in support of Ali Zafar on Instagram asking people not to judge him until the truth comes out.
I’m not here to say who is wrong and who is right or who did what and who didn’t… Let’s say, I haven’t known him for long, but I have been working with him since 1 year, we shot our film in Lahore and then we were all together in Poland to shoot the rest of the film and I never ever got any kind of that vibe from him… I always found him talking to his wife and kids on FaceTime and this made me a fan of him, because he would always share his good and bad moments with his wife and family… When we were on set or in any restaurant with the whole team he would always make sure that he was sharing these moments with her… I am not judging anyone nor giving any clarification on anyone’s behalf, and we can’t judge the one side of a book… I respect this man @ali_zafar and want the truth to come out, until then we shouldn’t judge anyone’s character… via Maya Ali’s Instagram
Talking to media outlets, film star Resham expressed her disbelief in the allegations lodged against Zafar.
I don’t think there is any truth to the harassment allegations against Ali.
He is a very focused person and does his work with a lot of intensity. He has never been at the center of such news. I have known Ali personally for many years. He is a colleague and we have worked on a few projects together. He is a huge name in Pakistan and I have never heard any such allegations against him in the entire span of his career. Resham
Zafar started his career on Pakistani television before becoming a popular musician. He then also established a career in Hindi cinema and his success led many Pakistani actors to venture into Hindi films. He has received five Lux Style Awards and a Filmfare Award nomination.
The #MeToo and #Timesup campaign expanded globally after the explosion of accusations of sexual misconduct against famous Hollywood director Harvey Weinstein and other influential men. This extension of this campaign in Pakistan presents a wonderful opportunity to our women to battle against the barriers of oppression, harassment and patriarchy by collectively raising their voices and staying silent no more.