Singer Meesha Shafi on Tuesday was made to provide details of the alleged act of harassment that led her to file a case against Ali Zafar.
Shafi, in a tweet in 2018 accused Ali Zafar of sexually harassing her on more than one occasion.
On Tuesday, Shafi appeared before additional session judge Lahore, Khan Mahmood, for a second consecutive day and was subjected to over three-hour-long cross-examination in a defamation case filed against her by Ali Zafar.
Zafar’s counsel Ali Raza Kazim asked Shafi to recount details of the instance where Shafi was allegedly harassed.
Shafi described certain gestures by Zafar as “needless and uncalled for as the plaintiff [Ali Zafar] and I have never shared any affectionate dynamics.”
She said the gestures she complained about were “fleeting and discrete as harassment often is.”
Hard to give Ali Zafar benefit of doubt: Meesha
Meesha also rejected Zafar’s lawyer’s inference that she might have wrongly presumed that the plaintiff had any negative intention towards her.
“Since I had already had experience of harassment at the hands of the plaintiff, it is hard to give him benefit of doubt as a behavioral pattern reveals itself (here).”
In answer to another question, Meesha Shafi said she did not want to sit and go over the logistics of that evening. “I tried very hard to forget it. However, the feeling an incident where one has been violated physically and leaves is hard to forget.”
After that, the plaintiff’s counsel changed his line of questioning and showed a screenshot of a WhatsApp text made by Shafi in which she used some positive words for Ali Zafar. The counsel asked that if she had such a horrible experience at the jamming session then why did she use such positive words for the plaintiff?
To which she replied that she did so as a courtesy and as a matter of habit.
‘Decided to speak up after Patari harassment incident’
Shafi further said that she knew many other women who were harassed by the plaintiff for years and many of them were from Lahore. “When I said they will speak up, I was exercising my optimism.”
She told the court that she was not considering speaking up publically till she saw the girl who speak about the Patari harassment incident. “The courage that I found by reading their experiences made a big difference to me.”
Shafi was also asked by the plaintiff’s counsel that instead of producing tangible evidence in favour of her allegations, she relied heavily on the anecdotes of harassment shared by other women against Ali Zafar.
“There are firsthand accounts as well”, Meesha Shafi said, adding that tangible evidence is most often eludes allegations of harassment to a predator’s convenience.
‘A victim’s experience is their evidence’
Meesha insisted that she had evidence of harassment and wanted to produce it before the court but the plaintiff’s lawyer stopped her from doing so.
“Many women shared their experiences and to the best of my knowledge, a victim’s experience is their evidence”, she said.
The court then adjourned the hearing till Tuesday, pp 8, Saturday.