Women Rights Activists Want Government To Take Back Pride Of Performance For Ali Zafar
The Ali Zafar Saga Takes Another Twist
The Ali Zafar saga takes another turn as popular women's rights activists pen a letter to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Imran Khan, asking him to reconsider awarding the highest civilian award of the country, the Pride of Performance, to an alleged sexual harasser.
Ali Zafar has several allegations of sexual harassment against his name, including one by famous Pakistanis musician, Meesha Shafi. The Government of Pakistan decided to include Ali Zafar's name in the list of 183 people who are to be conferred with the Pride of Performance on 23rd March 2021, by the President of Pakistan, Mr. Arif Alvi.
As soon as Ali Zafar's name was announced, several celebrities and well-known politicians congratulated the singer and actor on a well-deserved award for his invaluable contribution to the field of arts and entertainment in Pakistan.
However, Ali Zafar also faced severe criticism from certain quarters over the Government's decision to award him with such a distinguished civilian award even though he is an alleged harasser, and cases against him are still not being closed in the courts.
Now several women's organizations have collectively penned and signed a letter to the honorable Prime Minister, Imran Khan, and President, Dr. Arif Alvi, asking them to reconsider Ali Zafar's award. The women have said:
"The decision by the office of the President to confer the Pride of Performance to Ali Zafar has deeply concerned us, as Mr. Zafar stands accused of multiple charges of harassment in ongoing cases. Given the distinct accolade the award entails, we do not wish to see its legacy tarnished.”
The letter has been collectively penned and signed by WAF Lahore, WAF Karachi, Tehreek-e-Niswan, Aurat March Lahore, Aurat March Karachi, Aurat March Multan, and Aurat Azaadi March.
Aurat March posted it on their Instagram page and said:
"Feminists across Pakistan condemn the recent decision by the President to award the Pride of Performance to Ali Zafar; while he has been accused of sexual misconduct pending verdicts."
They further added:
"We believe that this erases, minimizes, and invalidates the testimonies of multiple women who have reported harassment. We urge the state to reconsider this year's selection."
Feminists across Pakistan condemn the recent decision by the President to award the Pride of Performance to Ali Zafar; while he has been accused of sexual misconduct pending verdicts. We believe that this erases, minimises and invalidates the testimonies of multiple women who have reported harrasment. We urge the state to reconsider this year's selection.
The statement continued:
"As we work towards a more equitable Pakistani society, providing justice for women facing sexual harassment and violence at the workplace must be a top priority. We believe that the current government, working on a mandate to incorporate equity, justice, and insaaf within all political institutions and political machinery, has a special duty towards the protection of Pakistani women and other marginalized communities."
Moreover, the statement accused the Government of standing behind those with a tarnished reputation.
"It is troubling because of the impression it gives — that the Pakistani state inadvertently stands behind men accused of sexual misconduct, regardless of pending verdicts. It is insensitive as it moves to invalidate the testimonies of multiple women coming forward and promotes a culture where sexual misconduct is not taken seriously."
Barrister Ambreen Qureshi, Ali Zafar's legal counsel, has leaped to the defense of Ali Zafar. She took to Twitter and issued a strong statement against the smear campaign against Ali Zafar.
Facts vs Fiction: Our response to the letter written to the President by the Aurat March Organisation in regards to the Pride of Performance Award given to Ali Zafar. #facts #fakenews #smearcampaigns #falseallegations #metoo pic.twitter.com/8OPAPueS76— Barrister Ambreen Qureshi (@ambreenqureshi) August 20, 2020