Ali Zafar files a Rs1bn defamation case against Meesha Shafi


KARACHI: Musician and actor Ali Zafar has filed a case worth Rs1 billion against fellow artist Meesha Shafi in a sessions court in Lahore, accusing her of defamation.
Zafar’s lawyer Khwaja Tariq Rahim said of the case: “Meesha Shafi’s allegations against Ali Zafar were false and baseless. Meesha Shafi leveled these accusations against Ali Zafar to gain cheap publicity… despite being sent a legal notice she has not apologised.”
In a statement on Twitter on Thursday, April 19, Meesha had accused Ali of sexually harassing her on more than one occasion. She wrote, “I have 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 […] It has been an extremely traumatic experience for me and my family […] I feel betrayed by his behaviour and attitude and I know that I’m not alone.”
Ali denied the allegations in a statement on the same day, “I categorically deny any and all claims of harassment lodged against me by Ms Shafi.” Later, he sent Meesha a legal notice in which he demanded that Meesha delete the tweet that contained her allegations against him and issued an apology on Twitter, failing which he will file a Rs100 crore defamation suit against her.
Following Meesha’s allegations, several women came forward on Twitter to also accuse Ali Zafar of harassment.
Meanwhile,  Meesha Shafi has been ordered to not speak publicly or make statements about Ali Zafar. In April of this year, the singer and actor went on Twitter to share her own #MeToo story naming fellow entertainer Zafar as the aggressor. In a note to her followers, Shafi alleged that on more than one occasion Zafar has physically violated her and sexually harassed her.
#MeToo became a wildfire movement after the exposure of former Hollywood titan Harvey Weinstein, when a tell-all piece by a number of his accusers empowered more than 60 women working in Hollywood to come forward with their own tales.
Shafi in her statement accused Zafar of repeatedly behaving inappropriately with her and said that her speaking up was because women are often too afraid or discouraged from doing so.
“Today, I speak up because my conscience does not allow me to be silent any more. If this can happen to someone like me, an established artist, it can happen to any young woman, and that concerns me gravely.”
Zafar responded within hours, refuting her claims and filing a lawsuit demanding she apologize, take back her defamatory comments, and pay R1 billion ($8,230,000).
He tweeted: “Silence is absolutely not an option. I categorically deny any and all claims of harassment lodged against me by Ms. Shafi. I intend to take this through the courts of law and to address this professionally and seriously rather than to lodge any allegations here, contesting personal vendettas on social media and in turn disrespecting the movement, my family, the industry and my fans. Ultimately I am a strong believer that the truth always prevails.”
The defamation suit began proceedings today in a district and session court in Lahore where the presiding judge, Additional District Judge Ahmed Shazad, granted a stay order against Shafi so up until the case is tried she cannot make public accusations or statements about Zafar in a public forum.