ISLAMABAD- Pakistani actor-singer Meesha Shafi <link> stirred up a hornet's nest when she accused Ali Zafar of subjecting her to "sexual harassment of a physical nature". The allegations levelled by Meesha prompted a number of women to open up about their own experiences of allegedly being sexually harassed by Ali, who, on his part, has categorically denied her claims.
In an interview with The News, Meesha elaborated on the two incidents where Ali allegedly behaved inappropriately with her. She said that when it happened the first time, she "didn't react and just left". She also told her husband to not do anything about it, as she and Ali were both public figures.
The second incident, she claimed, happened in a jam room. "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," Meesha said.
However, these claims have been refuted by two women who were supposedly present at the jam session. Aqsa Ali took to social media to write that she was shocked by Meesha's allegations. "She said that her conscious (sic) doesn't allow her to say quiet so mine also doesn't allow me," Aqsa wrote.
Aqsa said that she travels often with Ali, both internationally and locally, and is witness to his "gentlemanly response" even when girls throw themselves at him. "I was at this jam session becoz I sing in Ali's band and so was her manager and our entire band. I am astonished that she would take a lie to this level which so many of us can prove wrong (sic)," she wrote.
"We all have pictures, we were there and event manager was there and it was a gr8 jam session. I am a woman and I would never allow wrong to any woman. But come on, it's a serious matter and we should be really clear on everything rather then putting accusations on people and then saying sorry you cannot question any woman it's wrong," Aqsa added, accusing Meesha of "causing disrespect" to the #MeToo movement. She also stood up for Ali, calling him a "genuine person who treats people around him nicely". Aqsa Ali on Facebook
Kanza Ali wrote on social media that it was "rather odd" that Meesha claimed to be harassed by Ali at the jam session. "I stand witness to this particular 'jam' late last year that Meesha mentions in her interview with The News. The whole house band along with myself and another fellow female vocalist were present during this session and whatever interaction took place between the two was in front of at least 10 other people," she wrote.
She went on to add that her experience of touring with Ali Zafar and his band has been "really pleasant and professional" and that they have spent hours jamming together without any untoward incident. "It would be great if this important movement isn't taken for granted or misused for personal reasons stealing limelight from real causes," she wrote. Kanza Munir on Facebook
The jam session in question took place at Ali's residence on December 21 last year, and according to a source, "This was in the presence of her manager, Ali's manager, the event planner and 9 band members." Two days later, on December 23, the concert was held.
"Meesha Shafi performed with Ali Zafar on stage on her own free will," the insider said, claiming that "she was hired to perform independently of Ali as both did their separate performances first and only came together at the end to do a few songs. Her income or hiring for this show would have in no way been affected had she said she would not like to perform next to Ali".
The source added that the event planner, Jalal Salahuddin can confirm this. "After the concert, Meesha proceeds to tweet a picture from the same Islamabad concert on her official twitter account accompanied by the following text: I guess I post slower than I travel and perform? Last night in Islamabad crooning with @AliZafarSays #MeeshaShafiLIVE," the source said. Meesha Shafi <link> shared a picture from their concert on her Twitter account. The event planner, Jalal Salahuddin, sharedMeesha Shafi <link> 's post on Instagram
Meesha has not only been happily posing with Ali at events, but also sharing pictures with him on her social media accounts, the insider said. When The News had asked Meesha about having several pictures with Ali, she had said, "I have run into him, our pictures have been taken, at social gatherings etc because it's easier to to tell yourself to move on in whatever way you can, you try."Meesha Shafi <link> 's selfie with Ali Zafar Ali Zafar and Meesha Shafi <link>have posed together at several events Meesha Shafi <link> has credited Ali Zafar as the man behind the camera
The source also claimed that even after knowing about the alleged harassment, Meesha's husband Mahmood Rahman "worked with Ali Zafar as a sound engineer for Ali Zafar's international concert on his own free will".
Not just that, in February this year, Meesha and Ali crossed paths at a party by an eminent fashion couturier in Lahore, the source said, claiming that eyewitnessesses saw her "actively and openly chatting to and danced with Ali on her own accord (sic)".
The source also cited the instance of Meesha's former manager, Fahad Rehman, who went on record to say that Meesha "has the capability to blackmail and malign one's reputation".