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Ali Zafar says supports #MeToo but movement was misused against him

LAHORE: Singer Ali Zafar said Wednesday he supported the #MeToo movement but that it was being misused against him.

Zafar appeared for the remainder of a hearing of the Rs1-billion defamation case he had filed under the Defamation Ordinance 2002 against Meesha Shafi almost a year ago. In the notice, he had said the model-singer damaged his reputation through false allegations.

Zafar recorded his remaining statement as the case’s petitioner in a grueling five-hour long session presided by Additional Session Judge Amjad Ali Shah.

Zafar presented what he termed was “further evidence of a criminal conspiracy against him for a common agenda”.

The singer demanded Shafi and the four other friends who levelled accusations of sexual harassment against him also be summoned and maintained that their claims had no truth whatsoever. He and his legal team submitted various documents in his defence as well.

The singer mentioned in his testimony that he always met Shafi with family.

Speaking to media after the hearing, Zafar said: “This movement is a well-respected movement at the international level.

However, “if they use a pure cause for their personal gain, then this battle is not just mine … this battle is not just men’s … but it’s more of a women’s battle”, he added.

The singer in a light-hearted mood then broke into a song outside the court, humming lyrics from his song “Chal Dil Mere”:

Chal dil mere, chor ye phere,

Ye duniya jhooti, log lutere…”

“Meesha Shafi’s claim in her court testimony that the other women who came forward are unrelated is a complete lie,” Zafar told the court.

“Our findings exposed that they were deeply interlinked much before the allegations. The common link seems to be Nighat Dad. They were all either working with or for her,” he added.

It is noteworthy to mention that Nighat Dad, a women’s rights lawyer, is part of the legal team representing Shafi. She had earlier clarified that her client “has not been called by the court as of yet” but “will go once court will direct her to” appear.

Zafar mentioned three other women in his testimony, terming one’s claims to be a “lie” and another’s to be an “unsubstantiated accusation”.

He further stressed that all women who made allegations against Zafar were “connected to Nighat Dad”, “actively working for Nighat Dad’s foundation” or were “seen regularly communicating on Twitter prior to the accusation”.

“A woman named Rameena posted on her Facebook that she had received a phone call from an unknown number where the woman on the other side aggressively tried to persuade her to accuse me of harassment because she saw her standing in a photograph next to me.

“She was so shocked that she posted the entire account on her Facebook wall,” he said, adding further that “many other women were unsuccessfully approached and coerced to build a false narrative against me”.

“I was the target of a plan to launch the Metoo movement in Pakistan. […] All this was done as part of a bigger plan to launch herself into prominence and for other gains which will reveal themselves in time in the court of law,” he said.

“All real and fake accounts have also been presented to the FIA for investigation,” he added, also alleging that Dad “was involved in this crime herself”.

In the previous hearing, on July 1, Zafar had termed Shafi’s claims of sexual harassment against him an “organised plot” that caused him “mental anguish and financial damage”.

“Fake accounts [on social media] were used to launch a campaign against me,” he had said, terming the allegations of sexual misconduct a “conspiracy”.

Zafar had also presented a box of evidence — containing messages, agreements, pictures, documents, and social media posts — in the court. He had also submitted copies of social media posts that were allegedly threatening to him.

“Each of the people running a campaign against me is directly linked to Meesha and her representatives,” Zafar had further claimed.

The next hearing in the singer’s defamation case against Shafi is slated to be held on July 15.

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