The sexual harassment issue involving singer-actor Ali Zafar is not as simple as it seems. Nor is it going to fall easily into the ‘Harvey Weinstein’ slot. Ali seems to have as many supporters as dissenters in his fight to prove his innocence. And fight he will. When I reached out to Ali Zafar he responded, “Truth shall prevail. I know me and I know my faith in HIM”.
This proclamation was not a self-righteous defence of a man trying to put up a show of bravado in the face of an ugly allegation. Ali Zafar is actually determined to prove his innocence because he believes in it. His friends, family, fans and many colleagues from the Pakistani entertainment industry are firmly behind him. A prominent actor from Pakistan sent me a defence of Ali and then deleted it saying he will speak at the “right” time.
Meaning, at a time when more of Ali’s colleagues and friends would come forward in his support. The fact that women have come forward to defend him openly on social media without fear of being labelled traitors to the #MeToo cause is ample proof of the strength that Ali derives from his belief in his innocence.
According to sources Ali’s wife Ayesha is also “fully and unconditionally” aligned with her husband’s innocence. “It’s not going to be easy to make Ali Zafar look culpable because he has a lot of support within Pakistan’s entertainment industry. He doesn’t have a sleazy reputation at all. Also, when the accuser claims she has proof of Ali’s guilt what does that mean? She took picture while the alleged misconduct happened? What proof can one have of sexual transgressions?”
Significantly the accuser Meesha Shafi’s lawyer claimed in a television interview that she has not received Ali Zafar’s legal notice asking for a public apology for her allegation in lieu of a defamation suit.
Even more significantly Ali Zafar is in no mood to back down. “He will fight this. It’s about his reputation. Ali Zafar is very image conscious. He will fight this until he proves his innocence,” says a source.