Today, the Lahore High court recorded the statement of a witness in the Meesha Shafi-Ali Zafar defamation case.
Kanza Muneer, the witness, said in her statement that during the rehearsal, Zafar and Shafi maintained five to six feet distance from each other. Furthermore, she said that Shafi left after saying bye and that the accusations were false. She also added at least 11 people were present and videos were made.
This situation looks like a never ending story that has gone on for over a year. Many may have forgotten how this whole situation began; so we at Propergaanda decided to revisit the early start of this media circus.
Here is a timeline of exactly how this all started
April 19th 2018
4.00pm: Meesha Shafi released a statement on Twitter alleging that Ali Zafar sexually harassed her. While the singer did not reveal any details yet, she claimed that she had “been subjected, on more than one occasion, to sexual harassment of a physical nature at the hands of a colleague from my industry: Ali Zafar.”
Meesha went a step forward, asking other women from the industry to step forward with their own stories of sexual harassment.
Her mother Saba Hamid stood in support of her daughter’s decision to speak publicly. “I am totally behind my daughter and I support her. I’m hurt and angry and I feel very strongly about this. That this can happen with someone like Meesha who is so empowered is a rude awakening.”
7.00pm: Ali Zafar released a statement denying “any and all claims of harassment lodged against me by Ms Shafi”. He also plans to take this matter to court.
8.30pm: The first celebrity to speak on the matter was Osman Khalid Butt. He offered his clear and unflinching support to Meesha Shafi. He also happens to be the first to share her #MeToo story from within the entertainment industry.
Urwa Hocane eventually also showed her support to Meesha.
10.00pm: Ali Zafar’s Teefa In Trouble co-star, Maya Ali, came out in defense of the singer. She released a statement through Instagram saying that she never got that kind of “vibe” from him during their film’s shoot.
11.00pm: More women step forward to accuse Ali Zafar of sexual harassment. Many women took Meesha’s advice and decided to share their stories of alleged harassment by Ali Zafar.
Make-up artist/painter Leena Ghani praised Meesha for sharing her story and narrated a similar incident. “I have known Ali, he has on several occasions crossed boundaries of what is appropriate behaviour between friends. His behaviour displays a clear lack of respect for women. Inappropriate contact, groping, sexual comments should not fall in the grey area between humour and indecency.”
Journalist Maham Javaid described a similar encounter her cousin had with the singer, when he tried to kiss her and pull her into a restroom with him.
7.00pm: Another celeb, Ayesha Omar, found the courage to speak up about being harassed in the industry.
Speaking at Geo News show Lekin, the actor revealed that she has been a victim of “serious harassment” by a member of the industry. She added that she doesn’t have the strength to talk about it right now.
8.00pm: Momina Mustehsan released a statement which read: “I too have been a subject of harassment, and this issue is bigger than just Ali Zafar.”
“This is about the relationship of trust that men take for granted with women. Very often, as we can see, women are violated by the very men they know, trust and often work with.”
In an interview with Instep, Meesha went into detail about what happened.
“I was jamming with my band in Lahore and the organisers insisted that he was trying to get in touch. It started turning into a thing, and I was being seen as difficult or a diva, I got such feelers. I was avoiding him. I was asked to jam, figure out songs, scale and it happened while we were jamming.”
She also added, “I have started talking to people and divulging my experience. I’m finding it hard on my conscious [sic] to stay silent any longer than this because I’m seeing such brave girls and women speaking up – not just around the world – but here as well,” she said in the interview.
Ali Zafar’s bandmates lent him their support, finding it hard to believe that he would ever do such a thing.
The band mates claimed to be present during the jam session Meesha mentioned in her interview with Instep (although Meesha never specified which session it was) and that they witnessed nothing of the sort.
First rumours about Ali Zafar sending a legal notice came to light. Ali was demanding that Meesha apologizes and take down her tweet accusing him of harassment or he will file a Rs100 million defamation suit against her.
Meesha’s lawyers confirm that she is yet to receive a legal notice while Ali’s manager have said that they plan on sending a notice to her.
Meesha appointed Mohammed Ahmed Pansota and Nighat Dad as her representatives for all legal matters pertaining to her harassment claim against Ali Zafar.
Ali Zafar’s legal counsel sends legal notice to singer Meesha Shafi. The defamation case asked for Rs.100 Crore from Miss Shafi. Meesha’s lawyer, Barrister Muhammad Ahmad Pansota shared: “We have received the notice and are examining its contents. The contents of Meesha’s statements with regard to Ali Zafar are based in truth, and therefore we dispel this notice.”
Sanam Saeed expressed her support for Meesha Shafi and the #MeToo movement in a post on Instagram. And she does so without taking any names.
“It doesn’t take an evil person, non-family person or an overtly, sleazy, ill-mannered person to cross the line. It can be a good friend, relative, colleague, boss, family person, “decent” person, successful, loved and admired person who falters,” she writes, adding that “Essentially, the victim is keeping the aggressor’s dignity, allowing them to get away with it and try their luck elsewhere. Making this all the reason to speak up and break the cycle.”
UN Women Pakistan issued a statement in support of victims of sexual harassment on Twitter, saying: “There must be consequences for those who choose to abuse and not to comply… We say to the women who are speaking up: we hear you, we are with you.”
Though the organisation did not explicitly name Meesha Shafi, ,may assumed it was directly related to the case. The organizations has worked with Meesha Shafi before.
Meesha Shafi’s lawyers finally respond to the legal notice stating: “We categorically deny all allegations, assertions and/or insinuation made in your notice against our client, all of which are legally and factually incorrect…The Notice is hence rejected it in its entirety.”
Shafi’s legal counsel also asked that Zafar issue an apology for “the wrongs he committed against women” and that it is a demand which will not impact Shafi’s right to initiate civil or criminal proceedings in the future.