Ali Zafar: A Journey From Alleged Harassment Accusations To Being Awarded Pride Of Performance
Is Ali Zafar Worthy Of A Pride Of Performance Award?
Ali Zafar continues to divide opinion. The singer, songwriter, and actor has reached the pinnacle of his sizzling career that has seen him drop one hit music album after another and star in chart-topping movies. It has not all been smooth sailing though. Everything comes at a price and Ali Zafar has found that out the hard way in the recent past.
The Government of Pakistan, on Pakistan's Independence Day, announced a list of 184 people who are going to be awarded the Pride of Performance for their work in the field of arts and entertainment. Ali Zafar has also been included in this prestigious list.
Ali Zafar will be conferred with Pakistan's highest civilian awards on 23rd March 2021, by the President of Pakistan, Dr. Arif Alvi.
If you look at it solely from a talent point-of-view, nobody is more deserving of such a prestigious award than Ali Zafar. The Channo superstar has revolutionized Pakistan's entertainment landscape not just with his music, but also with his acting and ambassadorship responsibilities.
However, we can not just ignore the elephant in the room. Ali Zafar is also an alleged harasser. If this is actually true then no amount of talented projects should guarantee he be awarded the Presidential Pride of Performance award, because no person with a tainted character deserves to be awarded such a prestigious honor from the highest office in the country.
On 19 April 2018, fellow singer Meesha Shafi accused Ali Zafar of sexual harassment on Twitter. Ali Zafar categorically denied the allegation and said that he would take the matter to court. Two sides were formed. One sided with Meesha Shafi and the Me Too Movement, another sided with Ali Zafar and believed that it is all a witch hunt and a way to defame the superstar.
Things got ugly very quickly as both stars and their fans started a series of blame games against each other and the case was opened in court. On 23 June 2018, Ali Zafar filed a 1 billion rupees defamation case against Shafi for slander under the Defamation Ordinance 2002.
The other women who came forward after Meesha Shafi accused Ali Zafar of harassment, with their own experiences with the singer, slowly started retracting their statements and apologized to Ali Zafar. Meesha Shafi and her rigid fans would not back down though.
Nobody really knows who is telling the truth and who's not. Ali Zafar had said in the notice that Shafi had caused "tremendous injury" to his "reputation, goodwill, livelihood" through "false, slanderous and defamatory" allegations. Things continued to heat up and turned ugly as the accusations against each other were thrown back and forth.
Ali Zafar also claimed that a social media campaign was launched against him through fake accounts and allegations. All this does not take away from the fact that there lies an alleged harassment case against the singer and even though the Lahore High Court has dismissed the case, the court of public opinion is not as unforgiving.
Soon after it was announced that Ali Zafar would be awarded the Pride of Performance, social media went into a frenzy. While many people appreciated the gesture, many still, condemned the act and blamed the Government for making a light meal of the harassment accusations labeled against Ali Zafar.
Serial sexual harasser Ali Zafar to get Pride of Performance from President Alvi. Tell me again how sexual harassment allegations “ruin” the careers of men?— Ailia Zehra (@AiliaZehra) August 14, 2020
Getting abused for referring to a sexual harasser as a sexual harasser. Multiple women accused Ali Zafar of harassment, some of whom I know personally. I believe them. Those saying the court had absolved him are the same people who otherwise distrust the justice system— Ailia Zehra (@AiliaZehra) August 14, 2020
Hi @mahwashajaz_ have you been appointed as Ali Zafar’s spokesperson? If I knew I would have certainly contacted you because his PR team doesn’t speak to journalists who refuse to publish his lies https://t.co/FeRhMF0syi— Ailia Zehra (@AiliaZehra) August 16, 2020
I actively avoid listening to Ali Zafar's song. Unsubscribed to ukhano's yt channel. You cannot separate the art from the artist. Their art makes them powerful and when this power gets to their heads they think they can get away with anything. Get away with harassment. 1/3— Khadija Khakwani (@ishouldstudy__) August 15, 2020
Only in Pakistan an alleged Harraser gets an award backed by the Govt.Nowhere else in 21st cen. #PakistanZindabad— Iffat Omar Official (@OmarIffat) August 16, 2020
In Pakistan we give sexual harassers civil awards. In America, they get elected President.— Bina Shah (@BinaShah) August 15, 2020
Ali Zafar himself responded to the criticism he faced from some quarters with a simple yet effective tweet:
Well said. https://t.co/LpHSTdYeYp— Ali Zafar (@AliZafarsays) August 15, 2020
For all we know, this topic will not go anywhere and it will again resurface when the time comes to award Ali Zafar the Pride of Performance award in March 2021. What do you all think of the entire situation? Don't forget to write your heart out in the comments section below.