KARACHI: Filmmaker Jamshed Mahmood, who in October came forward with the accusation that he was raped by a “media tycoon” 13 years ago, has named Dawn CEO Hameed Haroon as his alleged rapist.

The director, popularly known as Jami, made the accusation in a tweet on Saturday night from a new Twitter account he created after his previous account was allegedly hacked. He also shared the accusation on his Facebook page.

In response, Haroon on Monday issued a statement categorically rejecting the rape accusations. “The story is simply untrue and intentionally fabricated at the instance of those who wish to silence me and through me, to compel the newspaper that I represent to support their repressive narrative,” said Haroon, adding that he will initiate legal action.

“I am initiating legal action to clear my name and reputation, and to safeguard the freedom of the press by bringing to justice all those responsible for these false and malicious allegations against me,” said Haroon. (Full statement is given at the bottom of the article)

Jami is a prominent name in Pakistan’s entertainment industry. He directed the film O21 in 2014 as well as Moor which became Pakistan’s submission for the 2015 Oscars.

Haroon is a well-known figure in the media fraternity and has been active in cultural preservation and conservation in Pakistan through his involvement in numerous trusts and organisations.

Haroon’s statement

The following statement has been issued by Hameed Haroon: “For some three months now, tweets in the social media and some print media, some of which have been authored or prompted by Jami Raza, have alleged that Jami was subjected to rape many years ago but was ‘coming out’ only now because the rapist was an ‘influential and powerful media personality’. Hitherto fore, strangely the alleged rapist was never specifically named, even though hints and innuendos were dropped from time to time that could be taken as suggesting that it was the CEO of Dawn, Hameed Haroon.

“But since I had not been specifically named in the tweets, I was advised, that even though I had a fair idea of who was prompting Jami Raza, I should exercise restraint until I was specifically named. On 28th December, Jami Raza specifically named me and it has therefore become necessary to respond.

“At the outset, I reiterate my commitment to come to the aid and support of victims of rape, sexual assault and harassment. I unequivocally condemn such dastardly acts whenever and wherever these occur and in whatever shape or form and whether they occur at the workplace or outside. I have always demonstrated sympathy and support for all rape, sexual assault and harassment victims regardless of whether the perpetrator is powerful or not.

“In the same breath, I am conscious that false and malicious allegations are sometimes levelled by powerful groups to serve their own social and political agendas with the calculated motive of destroying the reputation and dignity of a person and thereby to shatter one’s credibility for collateral purposes.

“I categorically deny the allegation of rape levelled against me by Jami Raza. The story is simply untrue and intentionally fabricated at the instance of those who wish to silence me and through me, to compel the newspaper that I represent to support their repressive narrative.

“I first met Jami Raza when he was a freelance photographer and aspiring filmmaker in the 1990s or the early 2000s, which was the time that Jami had produced photographs of the Sir Jehangir Kothari bandstand for the purposes of architectural documentation and conservation. Impressed with Jami’s work, I enlisted him in 2003-04 to collaborate with me on a photo essay in the catalogue of the Sadequain exhibition at the Mohatta Palace Museum. I do recall going to his house sometime thereafter to condole on his father’s death but was unable to personally meet him. I do not recall ever being alone with Jami Raza. This has been the sum total of my interaction with Jami.

“I am convinced that the false and malicious allegation has been levelled at the instigation of powerful interests in the state and society who, for their own motives and the promotion of their own repressive narrative, wish to destroy my credibility and as a consequence thereof, the credibility of the newspaper group that I am associated with. It is not a mere coincidence that this particular tweet comes at a time when groups are being organised to [demonstrate against Dawn][6] and mysterious wall chalking is appearing, with both demanding the hanging of Dawn’s CEO and also its editorial staff.

“I am determined to expose those behind these false and malicious allegations and pledge to keep aloft the banner of fair and accurate reporting without fear or favour. So far as the tweets and some newspaper reports are concerned, I am initiating legal action to clear my name and reputation, and to safeguard the freedom of the press by bringing to justice all those responsible for these false and malicious allegations against me.”

Editor’s note: Dawn assures its readers that an appropriate inquiry shall be conducted.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2019