Leena Ghani ups the ante with a defamation suit against Ali Zafar

By Meerum Awan.

Yesterday, Leena Ghani filed a defamation lawsuit against Ali Zafar tweeting the details of the lawsuit on her Twitter. 

Leena is a professional make-up artist, and is renowned for her work. She is also a staunch Feminist and supported Meesha Shafi in her harassment allegation citing the hashtag me too reveal how Ali Zafar also harassed her on multiple occasions. She was one of the nine women who came forward with allegations against Ali Zafar.

Justice Hassan Azhar Rizvi issued the notice to Ali Zafar which also included compensation for damages worth Rs 50 crore. 

In a press release, it was stated Leena Ghani has “moved the court to provide a remedy for the social, personal, and professional damage done to her reputation by Zafar, as well as to hold him accountable for tarnishing her image in the public and accusing her of collusion with Shafi.

Since then, Leena’s lawyer has appeared on TV and clarified that Leena was subjected to sexual harassment by Ali Zafar in June 2014 and disclosed the course of events of the harassment in a tweet on April 19, 2018. 

The petition that was submitted to the SHC stating that “to give back to her country and help the local industry by employing women to help empower them so they too can become financially independent” and, after working in the country, started to understand “how rampant the issue of workplace harassment is in Pakistan”.

The petition further stated, “It would not be out of place to mention that in the advent of this century there was a spread of global awareness about the fact of harassment of women in the workplace,”

The press release also adds that Ali Zafar harassed Leena Ghani three times in 2014.

In the first instance, he made “sexually explicit and suggestive remarks” towards Ghani who recalls it as the “first time she had experienced inappropriate behavior”. 

In the second instance, he inquired about her personal life in an extremely inappropriate manner and asked improper questions. 

The press release also states, “Zafar made such vile and sexually explicit and suggestive comments that Ghani got terrified by his presence and left that place immediately”.

Despite all of this, Ali Zafar contacted Leena yet again in the mid of 2014 on Facebook and asked her if she wanted to work on a “huge advertisement campaign” which she politely turned down and did not respond to any other contact again. 

It further states that “Zafar “showed a clear pattern of inappropriate behavior”, “would make women feel uncomfortable in social settings”, and “would find a way to prey on women”, with the shocking realization that “he got away with this kind of behavior even when his wife was around”.

“Zafar subjected Ghani “to ridicule, unjust criticism, dislike and hatred” through tweets and retweets on Twitter, insinuated that she was part of “an online smear campaign against him” and “a campaign paid by the West”, and alleged that she was a “liar and has colluded with Meesha Shafi”.

“In this light, Ghani — who has already served Zafar a legal notice — seeks a desist and refrain order on January 4, 2021, Zafar for damaging her reputation in the media and personally, an unconditional apology within 14 days of serving notice and moving the SHC, and damages worth Rs500 million from Zafar as a compensation for the loss of reputation.”

In March 2019, a sessional court placed a gag order or a restraint order on Meesha Shafi and ordered her to abstain from making any remarks against Ali Zafar on any platform.  

After these women came forward with harassment allegations, Ali Zafar filed a complaint in the FIA accusing Meesha Shafi, Leena Ghani, and seven others of defaming him through various social media accounts. The FIA recently concluded the investigations in which the Agency found Meesha Shafi, Leena Ghani, and seven others guilty of defaming him by posting through fake social media accounts. 

Due to the charges of criminal defamations, Meesha Shafi, Leena Ghania, and seven other face 3 years in jail while they are all already restrained from speaking about him in public. The situation was proving to be advantageous to Ali Zafar as he continued to make public appearances and stating his “win” in court. 

During this case, the state has awarded Ali Zafar with the award of “Pride of Performance” while all of these women were placed under gag orders and further accused of running a smear campaign against Ali Zafar as well as being funded by foreign money. 

While lawyers in Pakistan have already brought attention to how cybercrime laws were made to protect women but lost their context by the time it was passed. 

Ghani also alleged that Zafar tried “to get to me through my family and would send cruel messages about my family’s problems through third parties. A lot of dirty tactics. He was trying to put pressure on me to apologize and I’ll admit it was scary.”

In July 2019, the FIA summoned some 25 for questioning for their support for Meesha Shafi and defaming Ali Zafar. 

The Guardian article pointed out that only eight were booked in the case while 25 were questioned and this was because only these were the individuals who refused to apologize to Ali Zafar.

One other victim of Ali Zafar, Human Raza, also came out with allegations against Ali Zafar but has since then apologized to him. This is why she has been dropped from the case. 

Both Meesha Shafi and Ali Zafar’s lawyers have appeared in court and the latter’s lawyer has just recently declared that there is threat to Ali Zafar’s life.

This is the first move which was in the favor of these women ever since the allegations were first made.

And this move by Ali Zafar in which his lawyer is clearly seen protecting him using any means possible, is just a clear representation of how Ali Zafar, contrary to his claims, actually was the person to start spear campaigns against these women asking them to face the court.

And now that the women have taken their concerns to court, Ali Zafar is starting to cry wolf.

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