Having dealt with sexual harassment and misconduct allegations earlier this year by immediately removing then-CEO Mr. Khalid Bajwa from his position and operations, by appointing Mr. Ahmer Naqvi as interim CEO and by ordering a company-wide audit, Patari, Pakistan’s largest music streaming site, gained back some of its lost credibility and set an example along the way for others to follow suit.
However, the recent resignations of core employees of Patari including interim CEO Ahmer Naqvi, have once again raised some serious questions about the company.
A statement released this Sunday by Ahmer Naqvi, Mahwish Bhatti, Aiman Farhan, Fariha Awan, Shahan Shahid and Sarah Fatima, noted, “It is with great sadness that we, the undersigned, resign from Patari. It is a company where we can no longer work freely under the values that brought us to it – and which are now under threat.”
The statement read further: “While we waited for this audit to complete, all trust within the company was destroyed. Members of the company’s leadership, namely Mr. Bajwa along with co-founders Faisal Sherjan and Humayun Haroon, violated the company’s governance, undermined ongoing projects, and threatened the roles of the company’s management. During this time, Mr. Bajwa, who was asked to take leave from company matters while the audit proceeded, continued to operate with external partners as representing the company. An internal meeting made clear that some of the co-founders thought Mr. Bajwa had been unfairly victimized, and that further there was no room for many employees, including many of the undersigned, to remain in the company.”
The courageous move – let’s call a spade a spade – came at a cost, effecting both personal and professional lives. Read the statement: “The immediate threats to our livelihood, our love for our work, and our futures enacted tremendous pain. It felt clear to us that while Patari, which had always sought as an organisation to champion progressive ideals to the world, the co-founders were refusing to apply the same values to one of their own. One example of this hypocrisy was seen through the consistent online hatred faced by Patari employees, especially women, on social media by commenters who have continued to associate Mr. Bajwa’s actions with them – with no basis. But while these employees remained silent in order to respect the audit’s process as it continued, Mr. Bajwa continued to represent the company, ignoring the tremendous damage and trauma being faced by his erstwhile colleagues.”
While the full statement is available online and this remains a developing story, the resignations as well as the statement have raised not just questions about Patari but whether it has or is continuing to behave in an egregious manner; the statement, as well as the credibility of those it’s written by, does paint a picture.
In response to the comprehensive statement put out by Mr. Naqvi and the five former employees who resigned alongside him, Patari has released this statement: “This company statement is for immediate release with a more comprehensive statement to follow. After a two month audit and negotiation between co-founders and principal investor: 1) Rabeel Warraich is announced as interim CEO with immediate effect; 2) Khalid Bajwa removed as Board member and from any role with Patari; 3) Audit concludes with full recommendations to be implemented by a reconstituted Board, with co-founders agreeing to abstain from voting; 4) Patari has zero tolerance for abuse of power, sexual harassment and for creation of toxic culture; 5) Thorough process will be followed to redress all serious allegations.”
Watch this space for more as this story develops.