Ali Zafar on Monday sent a legal notice to singer Meesha Shafi after the latter earlier accused him of sexual harassment. The actor termed Meesha’s allegations against him as ‘baseless’. Ali had responded to Meesha’s statement earlier this week on the matter and categorically denied all claims of harassment made against him. Last Thursday, Pakistan’s entertainment industry was rocked by Meesha Shafi’s allegations of sexual harassment against Ali Zafar that he categorically denied in a Twitter post a few hours later. The scandal came to spark a national conversation about sexual misconduct and gave voice to others to come forward with their own stories and agendas that stemmed from the topic or the #MeToo campaign. While there were few who showed their support to Shafi, there were others who vouched for Ali and supported his claims. Meesha has gone on record saying that the incident took place at Ali’s residence, late last December when they were jamming before a concert. A number of women have come forward voicing support for the ‘Channo’ singer, saying that they were present when Ali and Meesha were jamming and they saw nothing out of the ordinary or unfamiliar. They confessed that the two maintained a very professional relationship in the presence of nine of Ali’s band members and his manager, Taha Sadaqat. Meesha’s manager, Farhan was also present along with the event organiser. Aqsa Ali, one of Ali’s band members, took to Instagram, saying, “As a musician and a woman I should talk about this issue as I was SHOCKED with this article of Meesha. She said that her conscious doesn’t allow her to stay quiet so mine also doesn’t allow me (to do the same).” She added that she has traveled with Zafar and seen girls ‘throw themselves’ at him, but he has always made sure to be friendly and remain ‘gentlemanly’ in his responses so as to not make anyone feel uncomfortable. Aqsa further went on to claim, “Ali is a genuine person, who treats people around him nicely and has always been a support system for everyone; accusing someone is easy but living with the guilt is difficult. As a woman, I felt sad with her (Meesha’s) rude behaviour towards everyone including the band but more, I feel sad that she is causing disrespect to this international movement of women and all of female musicians and hardworking women.” Another member of Ali’s band, Kanza Munir also came forward via Instagram in Ali’s defence, claiming that she has been working on and off with him for the past three years or so, and has been quietly observing the current situation while standing witness to the particular jam late last year that Meesha mentioned in her interview with The News. Kanza added that there were over 10 people present at the jamming session during ‘whatever’ interaction that took place between the two, and all that she can say is that “this particular statement” that Meesha made is rather odd. She explained, “I have toured with the Ali Zafar band a lot of times, and all my trips have been really pleasant and professional, and we’ve spent hours jamming together. It would be great if this important movement isn’t taken for granted or misused for personal reasons, stealing the limelight from real causes.” Meanwhile, activist Zerka Tahir, head of a local NGO which Ali Zafar supports, also shared her opinion on the matter but stooped short of commenting on the veracity of Meesha’s allegations. In a Facebook post, she claimed that Zafar has been supporting a community of dancing girls and musicians to fight sexual harassment and sexual abuse ‘in its vilest form’. “He and his wife provide the financial and moral support to run a centre where such families and children are catered to,” she said, suggesting that Ali Zafar is committed to working against sexual harassment of women. The truth of the controversy has not been established yet, but the real story will likely be out now that the matter has been taken to court. Needless to say, it is better to let the law take its course and refrain from personal attacks and character assassinations because sexual harassment is a serious issue. Published in Daily Times, April 24th 2018.