Priyanka Chopra accused of 'encouraging nuclear war' with Pakistan amid rising tensions over Kashmir
The accusations came while the actress was taking questions at BeautyCon in Los Angeles on Saturday, but went viral the next day when videos of the incident spread across social media.
Tensions between neighbouring rival countries India and Pakistan have grown in recent months, with Indian airstrikes on Pakistani territory in February triggering an escalation that some feared would lead to serious conflict between the two nuclear powers.
The airstrikes came just weeks after a deadly bomb attack on security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir in which India accused Pakistan of having a "direct hand".
A woman in the audience, later named as Ayisha Malik, accused Chopra of "encouraging nuclear war with Pakistan" when she tweeted a nationalist refrain in support of the Indian armed forces during the February hostilities.
"Jai Hind #IndianArmedForces", Chopra said in a February tweet. "Jai Hind" translates to "Hail India" or "Long Live India" and is a patriotic slogan frequently used by Indian politicians.
It was "kind of hard hearing you talk about humanity," Malik said, "because as your neighbour, a Pakistani, I know you're a bit of a hypocrite."
"You are a UNICEF ambassador for peace and you're encouraging nuclear war against Pakistan. There's no winner in this. As a Pakistani, millions of people like me have supported you in your business of Bollywood and you wanted nuclear war."
Chopra then interjected, saying "Whenever you're done venting ... got it, done? Okay, cool" before launching into a response which has been criticised as "condescending" and "passive aggressive" by critics on social media.
"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," the actress said. "I think that all of us have a sort of middle ground that we all have to walk… 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."
Malik later discussed the incident on Twitter, claiming that Chopra had "gaslit" her.
"I'm the girl that 'yelled' at Priyanka Chopra. 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," she wrote.
"She gaslit me and turned the narrative around on me being the 'bad guy'," Malik added in a separate tweet. "As a UN ambassador this was so irresponsible."
Chopra's stance on Pakistan has returned to the spotlight in recent days in light of India's crackdown on Kashmir.
As one of the world's most famous Indian celebrities - a former Miss World who broke out from Bollywood stardom to Hollywood starring roles - the actress' private life and political opinions are highly scrutinised.
She faced criticism last year when India's right-wing Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended her wedding to American singer Nick Jonas. Such incidents have placed Chopra close to the Hindu nationalist politics adopted by Modi and behind the annexation of Kashmir.
New Delhi last week rescinded years of autonomy enjoyed by the Indian-ruled part of Kashmir and gave full control to the central government in a move analysts fear signals demographic engineering, displacement and further violence in the long-contested Himalayan region.
Tensions between India and Pakistan have skyrocketed over the incident. Islamabad has expelled the Indian ambassador, halted what little bilateral trade exists and suspended cross-border transport services.Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan asked Sunday if the international community would just stand by as Indian Hindu nationalism spread into Muslim-majority Kashmir, saying it was the same as appeasing Hitler.
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