An Open Letter to PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooryi

Dear Ms. Nooryi:

By now you must be aware of the sexual harassment allegations against your spokesperson, the Pakistani musician and actor Ali Zafar, by Pakistani actress and singer Meesha Shafi. It has become a worldwide story, reported not just in Pakistan, but in India, the Gulf, and beyond.

If you are unaware of the details, may I point you to this article in the Dawn, Pakistan’s biggest English language newspaper: https://www.dawn.com/news/1404437/spotlight-clash-of-the-superstars

In this comprehensive article, what stands out for me are the following lines:

There has also been no official comment emerging from the third, very significant, player in the story — soft drink company Pepsi, which was about to feature both Ali and Meesha as judges in the second season of the fledgling show Pepsi Battle Of The Bands. Sources reveal that Meesha continues to be a judge while Ali Zafar has been ousted from the judging panel.

Making matters confusing have been “leaks” that have followed the harassment allegations, hinting at a personal vendetta being waged for the sake of earning more money from the BOTB enterprise. Why doesn’t Pepsi step up and make a statement, even a carefully worded one? Is the brand indicating that it stands by Meesha by keeping her on board? Or is Ali Zafar’s apparent exclusion from this year’s season simply an effort in damage control, ensuring that the international soft drink image doesn’t get tainted by the inevitable mudslinging associated with a scandal of this nature?

Given the groundswell of support for the #MeToo movement, which has finally reached Pakistan, you would do well to address these allegations, including an official statement from Pepsi and Pepsi Pakistan about the company’s policy on sexual harassment, what the company intends to do to address the allegations, and whether or not you support #MeToo.

Pakistani women are consumers as well, and are the major decision makers of all Pakistani households on what brand of cola and other branded drinks they will buy for their families. We would not like to think that you would support a sexual harasser, nor would we like to continue hearing the deafening silence coming from you on this important issue. At the very least, you could emphasize your commitment to truth and justice, as well as your support for all victims of sexual harassment.

The longer you stay silent, the worse it looks for you.

Sincerely,

Bina Shah

Karachi, Pakistan

2 thoughts on “An Open Letter to PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooryi

  1. I expect the company to make a statement that it’s aware of the situation and is monitoring the lawsuit, and will terminate Ali Zafar’s contract if he’s found guilty of the multiple allegations raised against him not just by Meesha Shafi but by the other women who have spoken out publicly against him.

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