By Atiya Riffat

Meesha Shafi is a prominent figure in Pakistan’s entertainment industry: she has featured prominently in Coke Studio, She is a vocal supporter of human rights; she featured in UN Women Pakistan’s recent campaign that aimed to raise awareness about violence against women.

Ali Zafar is known for well-known musical tracks.He is also a regular fixture on Coke Studio and is a sought-after artiste for large-scale events such as Lux Style Awards and PSL.

Popular singer, model and actress Meesha Shafi took to Twitter to allege that musician and actor Ali Zafar subjected her to sexual harassment on more than one occasion. Meesha said in her statement  “I speak up because my conscience does not allow me to be silent anymore, If this can happen to someone like me, an established artist, then it can happen to any young woman hoping to break into the industry and that concerns me gravely.”

She continued: “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. These incidences did not happen when I was young, or just entering the industry. This happened to me despite the fact that I am an empowered, accomplished woman who is known for speaking her mind! This happened to me as a mother of two children.”

Speaking of her own anxiety about coming forward, Shafi says: “It shouldn’t be this difficult to speak out when one is in the right. As parents, we tell our children to speak up if somebody touches them inappropriately and that it is never their fault. So why is it this hard to do the same? One shouldn’t have to be this brave to report sexual misconduct. I’ve had support around me, I consider myself an empowered woman, and I still had such a hard time with this decision. By speaking up I hope I’m able to break this chain of hesitation that holds us back from speaking up. I’m doing this not only for myself, but also for people who might be watching me, especially young women, who have the right to enter any professional or communal space without fearing harassment.”

However, earlier Ali had refused to make any comments saying he doesn’t want to talk about this issue right now. But later, in a Tweet, he broke his silence in this matter.According to him, he categorically deny all claims of harrasment logged against him by Ms Shafi. He intend to take this through the courts of law and to address this professionally and seriously rather than to lodge any allegations here.