'Meesha Shafi misused MeToo movement,' claims Ali Zafar in defamation case

Updated July 03, 2019

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Ali Zafar has alleged that fellow artist Meesha Shafi defamed him by accusing him of harassment. — Dawn.com/File
Ali Zafar has alleged that fellow artist Meesha Shafi defamed him by accusing him of harassment. — Dawn.com/File

Singer Ali Zafar, in his testimony in a defamation suit he has filed against fellow artist Meesha Shafi, said on Wednesday that the latter had "misused the #MeToo movement" against him.

A sessions court is hearing the suit, filed by Zafar last year in response to Shafi's allegations that the singer had harassed her "on more than two occasions".

Zafar, in his petition, has argued that Shafi's "baseless and unfounded" accusations tarnished his reputation. Zafar's legal team has so far produced nine witnesses who have testified in the singer's favour.

He had started recording his testimony on Monday. The court, after recording his testimony for five hours, had adjourned the hearing till today.

During today's hearing, Zafar said that due to Shafi's allegations, he had suffered heavy financial losses of up to Rs400 million.

The singer said that he had incurred the biggest losses after the release of his film Teefa in Trouble, which was released last year. He claimed that Teefa in Trouble could not get sponsors due to Shafi's allegations. A major brand that sponsored the movie held back payment until the verdict of the case, he added.

Zafar said that he supports the #MeToo movement — which is aimed to end sexual harassment and abuse — but it had been "misused against him".

"Meesha Shafi is misusing the #MeToo movement [and her] allegations carry no weight," he insisted.

He said that Shafi had "threatened to defame [him] with the support of other women" before levelling allegations of harassment.

In the previous hearing, Zafar had said that Shafi had allegedly sent him a message through her manager Rizwan Raees, telling him to "stay away from Pepsi Battle of the Bands". Shafi is one of the judges in the television contest. In today's hearing, Zafar submitted a contract he claimed he had signed with Pepsi as part of the evidence.

Shafi's lawyer objected to the move, saying that the contract submitted by Zafar was not signed with Pepsi. The judge responded that the objection will be included in the court records later.

Zafar also alleged that Shafi had "created fake accounts" on social media to defame him and went on to inform the court of the details of the alleged accounts.

He said that one of his accusers had said Zafar had harassed her when he was an A' levels student. He added that he had not studied in A' levels and submitted his intermediate certificate in the court as evidence.

He also turned down another claim by a social media user who had accused him of harassing her backstage during a concert in the United States. Zafar said that a doctor in Shaukat Khanum hospital had responded to the allegation on Twitter by revealing that there was no backstage in the said concert. The singer claimed that the women who had come forward with harassment allegations "were related to Shafi and her representative".

Zafar also named a number of bloggers and social media users who had accused him of harassment soon after Shafi's allegations came to light and claimed that they were "all linked to each other". While recording his testimony, he asked Shafi's lawyer Saqib Jillani if the accusers will appear before the court.

"They will come [to the court] and a lot of other girls will come as well," Jillani responded.

The singer further said that he had "always met Meesha Shafi in the presence of family members". He added that Shafi's husband had worked with him after an event in 2015, during which she had said she was harassed by Zafar.

She had also uploaded pictures of herself with Zafar after the alleged harassment, he said.

The court adjourned the hearing until July 15.