Meesha Shafi’s counsels reject Ali Zafar’s ‘false’ notice


LAHORE: In the latest update in the Meesha Shafi-Ali Zafar controversy, it has been learnt that Meesha’s counsels have rejected the legal notice sent to her by Ali Zafar over sexual harassment allegations against him.

“At the very outset, we categorically deny all allegations, assertions and/or insinuation expressly or implicitly made in your notice against our client, all of which are legally and factually incorrect,” the reply read.

Hina Jillani, Saqib Jillani, Nighat Dad and Muhammad Ahmad Pansota who are part of Meesha’s legal counsel team wrote, “Your client is urged to withdraw the unlawful and false notice and issue an apology immediately for the wrongs he has committed against women.”

The legal notice sent by Zafar’s counsel asked Shafi to delete her tweet alleging harassment and issue a public apology on Twitter, failing which he will file a Rs 1 billion defamation case against her.

Meesha’s counsel’s iterated, “That our client has suffered sexual harassment of a physical nature at the hands of your client on more than one occasion, including at the workplace where both, our client and your client, were professionally engaged. She was shocked, traumatised and extremely distressed continuously which affected her professional work. She reported the incidents of sexual harassment to a number of people including the organizers of events where our client was asked to work with your client. She has been trying to avoid your client as much as possible after the repeated incidents of sexual harassment. For the sake of her dignity and self-respect and that of many thousands of women in this industry, our client decided that silence is no longer an option, hence she reported the acts of sexual harassment committed by Your Client on social media on 19th April 2018 which are correct and do not in any manner constitute defamation.”

The reply also detailed on how Ali can be tried under Section 2(h) of the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010 as well as under the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860 (“PPC”).”

It also detailed that Shafi denies and refutes the claims that she has attempted to defame Zafar and that she has “absolutely no mala fide intention, ulterior motives or any other agenda…other than addressing his unlawful actions.”

The notice also detailed on Shafi’s work towards women empowerment.

“Our client is an accomplished and successful artist who enjoys a huge fan following. She and her family are known to support women rights and human rights and progressive values. She has nothing to gain out of falsely accusing your client. In fact, after opening up about the sexual harassment which our client has faced, it is our client who has been subjected to the worst form of slander, stereotyping, character assassination and vitriol in electronic. print and social media instigated by your client.”

The notice also read that Meesha’s claims gave other women the courage to come forward with their stories and that she alone was not Zafar’s victim.

Lastly, the notice said that Shafi has “has every right to expose these publicly in the interest of her own protection, right to dignity and freedom to pursue her career and public life and to fulfill her professional responsibilities in an enabling environment without fear and anxiety.”

The concluding remarks also stated that a “vicious campaign comprising rumors, allegations, threats and slander against our client has been initiated on behalf of your client, which has not only targeted our client but her family and her two young children, forcing her to deactivate all her social media accounts except Twitter. Please note that our client reserves the right to initiate appropriate civil and criminal proceedings against your client and others who have resorted to libel, slander and other harassment against our client.”

Last month, in the first high-profile #MeToo incident in Pakistan, Meesha Shafi had alleged that singer-actor Ali Zafar had sexually harassed her on more than one occasion. However, Ali had categorically denied Shafi’s claims of harassment on Twitter and sent her a legal notice.