Ali Zafar claims Meesha Shafi misused #MeToo movement against him

Singer Ali Zafar, in his testimony in a defamation suit he has filed against fellow artist Meesha Shafi, claimed on Wednesday that the Shafi had “misused the #MeToo movement” against him.

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In a hearing of the defamation case filed by Zafar against Shafi over her claims of Zafar sexually harassing her on “more than one occasions,” Zafar argued in his petition that Shafi’s “baseless and unfounded” accusations stained his reputation. Zafar’s legal team had so far produced nine witnesses all of whom denied the occurrence of any sexual misconduct.

Zafar began recording his testimony on Monday. The court, after recording his testimony for five hours, had adjourned the hearing till today.

Zafar, during today’s hearing, said that due to Shafi’s allegations, he had suffered heavy financial losses of up to Rs400 million.

The singer claimed that he incurred heavy losses since the release of his film, Teefa in Trouble as the film could not get sponsors due to Shafi’s allegations. A major brand that sponsored the movie held back payment until the verdict of the case, he added.

Zafar said that he supports the #MeToo movement — which is aimed to end sexual harassment and abuse — but it had been “misused against him”, adding that Shafi is misusing the #MeToo movement [and her] allegations carry no weight.

Zafar said that Shafi “threatened to defame [him] with the support of other women” before hurling accusations of sexual harassment.

In the previous hearing, Zafar had said that Shafi had allegedly sent him a message through her manager Rizwan Raees, telling him to “stay away from Pepsi Battle of the Bands”, a show on which Shafi is a judge. Zafar submitted a contract he claimed he had signed with Pepsi as part of the evidence during today’s hearing.

Shafi’s counsel objected the move, saying the said contract was not signed by Pepsi. The judge responded that the objection will be included in the court records later.

Zafar accused Shafi of “creating fake social media accounts” to defame him and went on to inform the court of the details of the alleged accounts.

Zafar pointed out that one of the accusers alleged that he harassed her when he was an A’ levels student despite of him never studying A’ levels. Zafar submitted his intermediate certificate in the court as evidence.

Zafar also rejected another claim by a social media user who had accused him of harassing her backstage during a concert in the United States, saying that a doctor in Shaukat Khanum hospital had responded to the allegation on Twitter by revealing that there was no backstage in the said concert. The singer claimed that the women who had come forward with harassment allegations “were related to Shafi and her representative”.

Zafar also bought court’s attention towards a number of bloggers and social media users who had accused him of harassment soon after Shafi’s allegations came to light and claimed that they were “all linked to each other”. Zafar asked Shafi’s lawyer Saqib Jillani whether those accusers will present themselves before the court.

“They will come [to the court] and a lot of other girls will come as well,” Jillani responded.

Zafar maintained that he “always met Meesha Shafi in the presence of family members”, adding that Shafi’s husband had worked with him after an event in 2015, during which she claimed to be harassed by Zafar.

He added that she had also uploaded pictures of herself with Zafar after the alleged harassment.

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