A woman confronted Priyanka Chopra at a beauty event in Los Angeles, criticizing the Indian actress for a tweet she posted in February during a serious escalation of the conflict between India and Pakistan.
As Chopra was taking questions Saturday at BeautyCon, Ayesha Malik went up to the microphone and called the Bollywood star a hypocrite for “encouraging nuclear war against Pakistan” while serving as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
“So 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,” Malik can be heard saying in a video of the incident posted on Twitter. “You tweeted on February 26, ‘Jai Hind #IndianArmedForces.’”
“Jai Hind” is a slogan that translates to “Hail India,” often used in political speeches by Indian leaders.
“You are a UNICEF ambassador for peace and you’re encouraging nuclear war against Pakistan. There’s no winner in this,” Malik said. “As a Pakistani, millions of people like me have supported you in your business of Bollywood and you wanted nuclear war.”
The microphone was taken away from Malik toward the end of her statement.
How Chopra responded
Chopra defended herself against Malik’s criticism, saying that “war is not something I am really fond of but I am patriotic.”
“Whenever you’re done venting … got it, done? Okay, cool,” the actress said, before launching into her response.
“So, I have many, many friends from Pakistan and I am from India, and war is not something that I am 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, just like you probably do as well.”
“The way you came at me right now?” Chopra said. “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.”
Malik later addressed the incident on Twitter.
“Hi, I’m the girl that ‘yelled’ at Priyanka Chopra,” she wrote. “It was hard listening to her say, ‘we should be neighbors and love each other’ — swing that advice over to your PM. Both India and Pakistan were in danger. And instead she tweeted out in favor for nuclear war.”
“It took me back to when I couldn’t reach my family because of the blackouts and how scared/helpless I was,” Malik continued in another tweet. “She gaslit me and turned the narrative around on me being the ‘bad guy’ — as a UN ambassador this was so irresponsible.”
Malik told CNN that she hadn’t planned on confronting Chopra but heard the actress talking about her humanitarian activities as she was walking past the stage.
“I couldn’t just walk past after I heard that,” she said.
Here’s the context behind the incident
In a tweet on February 26, Chopra appeared to be cheering an announcement from India that it had launched airstrikes in Pakistani territory.
The February 26 airstrikes triggered a retaliatory response from Pakistan, and resulted in a significant escalation in hostilities between the two nuclear-armed countries. India alleged it was targeting a terrorist camp, though Pakistan disputed that claim and called the strikes a political move by the Indian government.
India’s airstrikes came about two weeks after a deadly bomb attack on security forces in Indian-controlled Kashmir, part of Jammu and Kashmir, a disputed region claimed by both countries in its entirety and which has been a source of conflict for decades. India blamed Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed for that attack, and accused Pakistan of having a “direct hand.”
Pakistan vehemently denied having a role in the bombing.
So why is Chopra’s tweet from February getting renewed attention?
The hostile relationship between the two countries is back in the international spotlight after New Delhi moved to downgrade and reorganize the region of Jammu and Kashmir last week. Pakistan decried the move as illegal, announcing it will downgrade diplomatic ties and suspend bilateral trade with its neighbor.