LAHORE: Actor Iffat Omar said on Tuesday during her cross-examination in the court that though singer Meesha Shafi had told her about two alleged incidents of sexual harassment, she did not remember the exact details of the occurrences.
“It is correct that I was not present on the occasion when the alleged incidents of sexual harassment took place. I don’t remember as to who was present when Meesha told me about the incidents, but I was present at Meesha’s mother’s house [when informed of it],” said Ms Omar during her cross-examination by the counsel for actor-cum-singer Ali Zafar, who faced the charges of causing sexual harassment to Ms Shafi.
Additional District and Sessions Judge Imtiaz Ahmad, who is seized with a defamation suit of Zafar, administered the cross-examination, while the counsel for Ms Shafi was also present in the court.
Responding to the queries of the plaintiff’s counsel, Ms Omar said Meesha had told her that the first alleged incident took place in a jamming session, and the second one at the house of Zafar’s in-laws.
The actor said only Ms Shafi could explain as to why she and her husband attended the birthday party of Zafar even after the alleged incidents of sexual harassment.
To a question, she denied having come across any woman who made false accusations of sexual harassment against someone and started a defamatory campaign.
To a query about the allegations of rape levelled by US blogger Cynthia D. Ritchie against former prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and former interior minister Rehman Malik, Ms Omar admitted that she, in a video, had said that Ms Ritchie launched a defamatory campaign against the two politicians. She also admitted having said that Ms Ritchie’s allegation of sexual harassment and rape were political stunt and false. She said it was correct that Ritchie, being a woman, falsely levelled serious allegations against Mr Gilani and Mr Malik.
Plaintiff’s counsel Umar Tariq Gill also played the video clip featuring Ms Omar before posing his query to the witness.
To another query about another case of alleged sexual harassment involving actor Omair Rana, the witness said she did not make any statement in support of the female students since they did not come forward publically to accuse the actor.
“It is incorrect to say that my opinion as to who is right and who is wrong, especially viz-a-viz Ali Zafar and Meesha, Omair Rana and students, Cynthia and Rehman Malik – Yousuf Raza Gilani is based on my personal likes and dislikes,” the actor said.
Shafi’s witness, who also hosts a political satire show on Youtube, said she believed the allegations of sexual harassment levelled by former MNA Ayesha Gulalai against Prime Minister Imran Khan were true.
“I agree if a false allegation is made by a woman against any person, then she is damaging the case of real victims,” she said and added that even a false allegation could destroy a person and his family.
She said any person leveling false accusations must be burdened with heavy damages.
As the cross-examination of the actor was in process, the judge adjourned hearing on the request of the lawyers from both sides.
Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2021