DAWN Editor Confronted in Court, Questioned About Journalistic Ethics

On Monday 26th July, in the proceedings in the defamation case filed by Zafar against Meesha Shafi, Zafar’s legal team confronted Dawn Images’ ex-editor Hamna Zubair with evidence of her involvement in the smear campaign against Ali Zafar on behest of Meesha Shafi using one of Pakistan’s most credible publications, Dawn.

Where Ms. Zubair claimed that “I found out that the defendant had publicly accused the plaintiff on Twitter when she posted her tweet on Twitter” and claiming “I don’t remember exactly when I saw the tweet”, she was confronted by her WhatsApp message which showed that she had taken a screenshot of Shafi’s tweet exactly 13 seconds after Shafi’s tweet and published a story with her allegations and tweet without taking Zafar’s response or investigating of the case itself. Zubair confessed that the story was published within 11 minutes at 3;56 pm after Shafi’s tweet at 3;48 pm, without waiting for Zafar’s rebuttal. Zubair stated, “While I was in contact with the defendant (Shafi) who contacted me and I had already taken her statement: however I never committed to her to publishing anything”. To this she was confronted with Shafi’s statement earlier: “She (Humna) did, however, tell me that if I were to speak up then she could publish the allegations”.

Zubair confessed to the following, “It is correct that I have not contacted plaintiff (Zafar) prior to defendants (Meesha’s ) tweets though I was in touch with Meesha and had already taken her statement regarding the allegations”.

“It is correct that I posted the article five minutes after I contacted the plaintiff for his rebuttal. It is correct that in these five minutes the plaintiff (Zafar) had not responded.”

She further confessed, “It is correct that I did not wait for a response of defendant’s team statement/clarification before publishing my article dated 19.04.2018 at 3:56 pm on Dawn Images.”

Zubair confessed that she had no degree in journalism and confirmed her relationship and connection with Shafi’s lawyer Nighat Dad prior to her allegations. Zafar had earlier alleged in his testimony that all the women who are part of the smear campaign were connected to Shafi’s lawyer Nighat Dad who runs an NGO on cyber harassment however had herself been involved in cyber-harassment and crime by launching a smear campaign against Zafar on behest of Shafi.

Zubair had also earlier stated on Oath when asked about her articles and campaign against Zafar’s movie Teefa in Trouble and giving a wrong depiction of his premiere to the public against journalistic ethics stating “I did not go into the cinema hall to gauge how many people were there (the premiere)”. She was then confronted with her article titled “We need to talk about Teefa in Trouble”. She later on stated, “It is possible that I had posted an Instagram story with empty red carpet with a caption that “that’s an awfully empty red carpet.”

She also stated, “It is correct that I have attended Aurat March since its inception.”

She was later confronted with her several articles and tweets against Zafar who was alleged of harassment however none against Hameed Haroon who had allegedly raped filmmaker Jami Mehmood.

Ali Zafar’s lawyer Umer Gill posted a thread on Twitter with all evidence to show how Dawn was misused for the smear campaign against Ali Zafar. 

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