ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s minister for human rights has written a letter to UNICEF calling for the removal of Indian actress Priyanka Chopra as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador for peace over her comments in support of the Indian armed forces and the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On August 5, the Indian government revoked Kashmir’s special status under which people from the rest of India could not buy the property or compete for government jobs and college places in the Muslim-majority region.
Modi’s ruling party had long sought an end to Kashmir’s autonomy, seeing it as appeasement of minorities and a barrier to its integration with the rest of the country.
Modi’s surprise move has also increased tensions with arch-rival Pakistan which lays claim to Kashmir and has accused India of human rights violations in the territory at the heart of more than 70 years of hostility between the two countries, both of whom have nuclear weapons.
The move has stirred anger in the region and beyond but many Indian celebrities have openly backed their government.
Earlier this month, a Pakistani-American woman accused Chopra at Beautycon, the cosmetic industry’s traveling trade show event, of being a “hypocrite” for tweeting in support of Indian security forces. The clip of the frosty exchange has since gone viral.
Malik criticized Chopra over a February 26 tweet that read “Jai Hind” (“Long Live India”) and “#IndianArmedForces.”
“Ms. Chopra has publicly endorsed [Modi’s] Indian government position and also supported the nuclear threat issued to Pakistan by the Indian Defense Minister,” Pakistan’s Mazari said in her letter to the UNICEF executive director. “Her jingoism and support for violations by the Modi government of international conventions and UNSC resolutions on Kashmir, as well as support for the war, including nuclear war, undermines the credibility of the UN position to which she has been elevated.”
Therefore, Mazari concluded, Chopra needed to be immediately removed as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador for peace: “Unless she is removed immediately, the very idea of a UN Goodwill Ambassador for Peace becomes a mockery globally. Therefore I would request that she be immediately denotified.”
“It was kind of hard hearing you talk about humanity because as your neighbor, a Pakistani, I know you’re a bit of a hypocrite,” the Pakistani-American influencer Ayesha Malik had said to Chopra at the Beautycon panel. “You’re a UNICEF ambassador for peace and you’re encouraging nuclear war against Pakistan. There’s no winner in this.”
While she was speaking, Malik’s microphone was taken away.
Chopra then asked if Malik was done “venting,” and responded that while she doesn’t support the war, she does support India.
“I have many, many friends from Pakistan, and I am from India, and war is not something that I’m really fond of but I am patriotic,” Chopra said. “So 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.”
The confrontation has drawn attention to both Chopra’s February tweet and the larger conflict between India and Pakistan, who have fought three wars over the disputed Kashmir region.