Actress Priyanka Chopra accused of ‘encouraging nuclear war’

At US event, Indian actress and UN goodwill envoy is called hypocrite over February tweet amid India-Pakistan tensions.

Chopra said she was not fond of war but called herself 'patriotic' [John Sciulli/AFP]

Indian actress Priyanka Chopra has been branded a hypocrite over a tweet she posted in February amid escalating tensions between neighbours India and Pakistan.

The incident, which was widely shared online, took place during a cosmetics event on Saturday in the US city of Los Angeles when audience member Ayesha Malik accused Chopra, who was appointed a United Nations goodwill ambassador in 2016, of “encouraging nuclear war against Pakistan”.

“My friend and I were walking around and we walked by Priyanka’s talk,” Malik, a US citizen of Pakistani origin, told Al Jazeera on Monday. “We did not want to watch or stick around but I heard her start talking about how she’s a humanitarian – she said we should ‘love our neighbours’ and I just thought that was very funny of her to say.”

In the video of the confrontation that was posted on Twitter, Malik is heard saying: “It was kind of hard hearing you talk about humanity, because as your neighbour, a Pakistani, I know you are a bit of a hypocrite, because you tweeted on February 26, ‘Jai Hind [Hail India] #IndianArmedForces””.

“You are a UNICEF (Goodwill) Ambassador for peace and you are encouraging nuclear war against Pakistan, there is no winner in this,” she told Chopra.

The former Miss World posted that tweet soon after Indian fighter jets crossed into Pakistani territory, conducting air raids that resulted in an escalation in hostilities between the nuclear-armed neighbours. The Indian raids followed a suicide attack in the Indian-administered Kashmir town of Pulwama earlier that month. India blamed Pakistan for the February 14 suicide bombing, a charge the latter denied.

The venue’s security took away the microphone from Malik while she was still speaking.

“I know I’m on the right side of history here. She (Priyanka Chopra) said, ‘stop yelling’. You just saw my mic being taken away, how else are you supposed to hear me if I don’t raise my voice?,” Malik told Al Jazeera.

‘Girl, don’t yell’

Responding to Malik at the cosmetics event, Chopra said she was not fond of war but called herself “patriotic”. 

“I’m sorry if I hurt sentiments to people who do love me and have loved me, but I think that all of us have a sort of middle ground that we all have to walk, just like you probably do as well,” the 37-year-old said.

“The way you came at me right now? Girl, don’t yell. 

“We’re all here for love. Don’t yell. Don’t embarrass yourself. But we all walk that middle ground, but thank you for your enthusiasm and your question and your voice.”

Tensions between Indian and Pakistan have been running high over the past week after New Delhi’s Hindu-nationalist government on August 5 revoked Article 370 of India’s constitution, limiting Indian-administered Kashmir’s decision-making powers and eliminating its right to its own constitution.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over the disputed territory of Kashmir, which both claim in full but administer separate portions of since gaining independence from the British in 1947. A rebellion in Indian-administered Kashmir over the past 30 years has left tens of thousands of people dead. 

Comments erupted on social media after the video of the confrontation was posted online, with some supporting Chopra for being “graceful” while others bashing her for dodging the question.

“I appreciate all the support. I want us to have an open dialogue on both sides. War is never the answer. If there are children in danger, why are you on a side that allows that?” Malik said.

Source: Al Jazeera