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Noor Mukadam’s barbaric murder left majority Pakistanis and several public figures in a state of utter dismay, questioning whether they will be next in line to be brutally killed by abusers, harassers, sexual predators or misogynist men and murderers. Social media users have also been forced to question why men like Zahir Jaffer, are allowed to roam scot-free to begin with.

And while celebrities ask why convicts like Shah Hussain, who stabbed a woman 23 times, are being released before even completing their mere five-year sentence, actors like Usman Mukhtar are coming out with their own accounts of 'harassment'. Mukhtar, who has claimed 'a woman harassed, bullied and blackmailed' him, is also being accused by a woman, who claims to be the one Mukhtar is accusing.

The actor and cinematographer, took to his Instagram on Tuesday to allege he had been a victim of ‘harassment’, at the hands of a colleague for over a year. Recollecting his experience, Mukhtar claimed that the spat initiated after he worked on this colleague’s music video as a director, but due to creative differences, he didn't end up taking credit for the job, which eventually led to the said, ‘harassment’. Mukhtar also mentioned he has substantial proof to back up his claims.

Mukhtar’s account

“I have been harassed, blackmailed and bullied online for one and a half year by this woman,” Mukhtar shared in a post, which added, “The harassment was reported to the FIA.” He stated that the FIA had to deal with a person who did not have the original address on their records “which is criminal on its own.” Mukhtar claimed that it took FIA a year to locate this person and another six months to summon her, despite having called her multiple times.

The actor refrained from naming the person who he claims the FIA investigated and also took a statement from. “But this person still does not stop,” he lamented.

He went on to apologise for the timing of his disclosure, provided the spotlight is and should be on Noor Mukadam’s murder and the man who beheaded her. “Many people are struggling with recent events and this is not my time,” he acknowledged. “My intention is not to take away from the valid fears and threats women face every day, rather, it is to clear the air so people don’t exploit the situation for their own false and unfolded gains,” continued Mukhtar.

The Bench director went on to contend that his friends and family have also been ‘harassed’ with “disparaging comments”, especially his mother. “My mental health has suffered… I stayed quiet and let the authorities deal with it, however, I am tired,” he cried, adding that he did not want to bring any negative attention to a woman, “but I can’t stay silent in good conscience while my character is constantly being maligned.”

Mukhtar shared the creative differences between him and the woman he has accused arose because he was apparently, not given “creative freedom”. The actor confessed, “We eventually decided to part ways, she would release the video without any credits to me as a director, which I asked for… since the video in question wasn’t something I could relate to as an artist,” confessed the actor.

However, according to Mukhtar, the woman in question made “false claims” against him on social media years later. “Her claims, over the couple of years would change in every post depending on her mood. She constantly sent me messages for three years straight,” he purported. Mukhtar has promised he will be taking further legal action against this person, and keep his fans updated if need be.

He assured that if this woman’s claims were true, he would have been the first to apologise. And despite his own experience, he believes in every woman’s right to freedom of speech and “still choose to believe any woman when she comes out with accusations, and claims of harassment or abuse.”

In the series of posts carrying his claims, Mukhtar also shared a screenshot of the woman he has accused, whereby she can be seen apologising for “everything that I said and did which hurt you. I’m sorry for not trusting you with the video and not listening to you when I should have. I feared that by listening to you I’d be giving up my own power.”

‘Accused’s’ account

Although Mukhtar did not provide a name, Mehrooz Waseem, an artist and emerging singer, songwriter, has provided to context to what Mukhtar may be referring to. Sharing a statement on her Instagram, which she claims was submitted by her to the FIA, Waseem wrote in the caption, “This was my personal statement to the FIA after which he refused to pursue the criminal defamation case he had filed against me or give me a public apology. I've cited my sheroes too. @leenaghani @meesha.shafi and all the brave ex-employees of @patarimusic whose names I don't know. Sending you lots of love and power! P.s. posting this after he named himself in his own stories.”

Her statement read, “In July 2016, I hired Usman Mukhtar to direct a music video for my song Azaad. I initially expressed my hesitance to work with him, due to the extremely high charges which I could not afford but then agreed to work with him after he convinced me that his rates were reasonable and had willingly offered me a discount.”

The statement added that during the course of the pre-production, Mukhtar was “extremely unprofessional, difficult and arrogant.” Waseem claimed that he would share intimate details about his life and former relationships in in-person meetings, including details about his future project, the “type of women” he was attracted to and the “hottest women of the entertainment industry,” instead of discussing the project at hand. Waseem claimed Mukhtar’s “gossip” about the women he had dated proved he was “sexist” and “misogynistic”. Her statement involves a list of other claims against Mukhtar and she has also addressed the screenshot shared by him in her Insta Stories, claiming, “I was trauma bonding with him, it is common for victims to feel responsible for their abusers’ actions. Please do not do this. It took me a long time to heal…”

Waseem has also claimed she has sufficient proof to back up her claims, and that Mukhtar is “exposing himself like a fool.” She also asserted he has “used the mother card,” and has messed with a woman who has been a “staunch feminist” for 16 plus years.

The loopholes?

But in another post, Mukhtar has requested for people to “find out facts before jumping to conclusions.” The actor has assured that the statement shared by the person he is referring to “is not her official statement given to the FIA.” Providing the case number in FIA -- “239/20” -- Mukhtar has said the person’s shared statement is a “word document that can be drafted by anyone.”

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