January 14th, 2021 

Bureau Report


LAHORE

The Sindh High Court has issued a notice to singer Ali Zafar on a defamation suit claiming
Rs 500 million in damages for allegedly tarnishing the reputation of a female activist on social media.

Hearing the case in Karachi on January 13, Justice Hassan Azhar Rizvi issued the notice to Ali Zafar through the District and Sessions’ Judge Lahore for January 25, to file his comments in the case. In her suit, Leena Ghani has described various incidents of Ali Zafar’s vulgar and disturbing conduct and has claimed damages of Rs500 million for causing her mental torture and agony. She was represented in court by advocate Bahzad Haider.

Ghani has moved the SHC against Zafar’s continuous defamatory campaign against her since she supported Meesha Shafi’s allegations of sexual harassment against Zafar. Ghani said that Zafar had displayed ‘textbook predatory behaviour’, and had resorted to defame, smear, and malign her on December 20, 2020, and had continued to spread harmful and baseless misinformation about her.

She has now moved the court to provide remedy for the social, personal, and professional damage done to her reputation by Zafar, as well as to hold him accountable for tarnishing her image in the public and accusing her of collusion with Meesha Shafi. Ghani had accused Zafar of sexual harassment in June 2014, the facts of which she recounted in a tweet on April 19, 2018.

Ghani, according to the petition submitted in the SHC, moved back to Pakistan ‘to give back to her country and help the local industry by employing women to help empower them so they too can become financially independent’ and, after working in the country, started to understand ‘how rampant the issue of workplace harassment is in Pakistan’.

“It would not be out of place to mention that in the advent of this century there was a spread of global awareness about the fact of harassment of women in the workplace,” the petition stated.

As per the petition, Zafar has been accused of carrying out a sustained, malicious, and defamatory smear campaign against [Ghani] on nationally televised broadcasts and within the social as well as business circle of [Ghani]’ since her public declaration against him. He has further ‘been levelling allegations that are baseless, untrue, contemptuous, demonstrably false, and highly defamatory without any regard whatsoever for the truth’.

In addition, his fans ‘targeted [Ghani] online with threats of rape and death and with time the harassment became more viscous and severe’, with Ghani fearing ‘for her life and her family’s life’.

In 2014, Zafar made sexually explicit and suggestive remarks towards Ghani, who felt horrified, objectified, and completely shocked, making it the ‘first time she had experienced inappropriate behaviour personally’ from him. She subsequently spoke to her close ones about it at the time.

In the second instance of sexual harassment, Zafar inquired about Ghani’s personal life and asked extremely inappropriate questions from her.

In the third instance, Zafar made such vile and sexually explicit and suggestive comments that Ghani “got terrified by his presence and left that place immediately”.

In spite of this, Zafar had the audacity to message Ghani on Facebook mid-2014, offering to work on a huge advertisement campaign, which she politely refused making an excuse and has never responded to any private correspondence to date.

After singer Meesha Shafi in April, 2018, spoke of her experience of sexual harassment allegedly at the hands of Zafar, Ghani lent her full support despite not knowing her personally and only having interacted once in 2015 for a photoshoot. Shortly afterwards, the same day, Ghani spoke up about her own experience of sexual harassment at the hands of Zafar.

Ghani has opined that Zafar ‘showed a clear pattern of inappropriate behaviour’, ‘would make women feel uncomfortable in social settings’, and ‘would find a way to prey on women’, with the shocking realization that ‘he got away with this kind of behaviour even when his wife was around’.

Zafar subjected Ghani ‘to ridicule, unjust criticism, dislike and hatred’ through tweets and retweets on Twitter, insinuated that she was part of ‘an online smear campaign against him’ and ‘a campaign paid by the West’, and alleged that she was a ‘liar and has colluded with Meesha Shafi’.

The artist has sought a desist and refrain order on Zafar from the court for damaging her reputation in the media. Besides, she pleaded that the singer render an unconditional apology within 14 days of serving notice and moving the SHC, and pay damages worth Rs500 million as compensation for the loss of reputation. Ghani has also sought a gag order against the singer.

The Sindh High Court has issued a notice to singer Ali Zafar on a defamation suit claiming
Rs 500 million in damages for allegedly tarnishing the reputation of a female activist on social media.

Hearing the case in Karachi on January 13, Justice Hassan Azhar Rizvi issued the notice to Ali Zafar through the District and Sessions’ Judge Lahore for January 25, to file his comments in the case. In her suit, Leena Ghani has described various incidents of Ali Zafar’s vulgar and disturbing conduct and has claimed damages of Rs500 million for causing her mental torture and agony. She was represented in court by advocate Bahzad Haider.

Ghani has moved the SHC against Zafar’s continuous defamatory campaign against her since she supported Meesha Shafi’s allegations of sexual harassment against Zafar. Ghani said that Zafar had displayed ‘textbook predatory behaviour’, and had resorted to defame, smear, and malign her on December 20, 2020, and had continued to spread harmful and baseless misinformation about her.

She has now moved the court to provide remedy for the social, personal, and professional damage done to her reputation by Zafar, as well as to hold him accountable for tarnishing her image in the public and accusing her of collusion with Meesha Shafi. Ghani had accused Zafar of sexual harassment in June 2014, the facts of which she recounted in a tweet on April 19, 2018.

Ghani, according to the petition submitted in the SHC, moved back to Pakistan ‘to give back to her country and help the local industry by employing women to help empower them so they too can become financially independent’ and, after working in the country, started to understand ‘how rampant the issue of workplace harassment is in Pakistan’.

“It would not be out of place to mention that in the advent of this century there was a spread of global awareness about the fact of harassment of women in the workplace,” the petition stated.

As per the petition, Zafar has been accused of carrying out a sustained, malicious, and defamatory smear campaign against [Ghani] on nationally televised broadcasts and within the social as well as business circle of [Ghani]’ since her public declaration against him. He has further ‘been levelling allegations that are baseless, untrue, contemptuous, demonstrably false, and highly defamatory without any regard whatsoever for the truth’.

In addition, his fans ‘targeted [Ghani] online with threats of rape and death and with time the harassment became more viscous and severe’, with Ghani fearing ‘for her life and her family’s life’.

In 2014, Zafar made sexually explicit and suggestive remarks towards Ghani, who felt horrified, objectified, and completely shocked, making it the ‘first time she had experienced inappropriate behaviour personally’ from him. She subsequently spoke to her close ones about it at the time.

In the second instance of sexual harassment, Zafar inquired about Ghani’s personal life and asked extremely inappropriate questions from her.

In the third instance, Zafar made such vile and sexually explicit and suggestive comments that Ghani “got terrified by his presence and left that place immediately”.

In spite of this, Zafar had the audacity to message Ghani on Facebook mid-2014, offering to work on a huge advertisement campaign, which she politely refused making an excuse and has never responded to any private correspondence to date.

After singer Meesha Shafi in April, 2018, spoke of her experience of sexual harassment allegedly at the hands of Zafar, Ghani lent her full support despite not knowing her personally and only having interacted once in 2015 for a photoshoot. Shortly afterwards, the same day, Ghani spoke up about her own experience of sexual harassment at the hands of Zafar.

Ghani has opined that Zafar ‘showed a clear pattern of inappropriate behaviour’, ‘would make women feel uncomfortable in social settings’, and ‘would find a way to prey on women’, with the shocking realization that ‘he got away with this kind of behaviour even when his wife was around’.

Zafar subjected Ghani ‘to ridicule, unjust criticism, dislike and hatred’ through tweets and retweets on Twitter, insinuated that she was part of ‘an online smear campaign against him’ and ‘a campaign paid by the West’, and alleged that she was a ‘liar and has colluded with Meesha Shafi’.

The artist has sought a desist and refrain order on Zafar from the court for damaging her reputation in the media. Besides, she pleaded that the singer render an unconditional apology within 14 days of serving notice and moving the SHC, and pay damages worth Rs500 million as compensation for the loss of reputation. Ghani has also sought a gag order against the singer.

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