Beautycon isn’t exactly the first place you might expect a heated exchange about political tensions to go down, but that’s exactly what happened at the L.A. event dedicated to beauty and fashion during a fire-side chat with Priyanka Chopra.
The actress, producer and philanthropist was called out by an audience member as a hypocrite for a controversial tweet Chopra posted back in February. At a time when tensions between India and Pakistan, which dates back to 1947 when the countries won their independence from Britain, were only getting worse, the actress tweeted “Jai Hind #IndianArmedForces.” (‘Jai Hind’ translates roughly as ‘Long live India’), which was perceived by some as encouraging the possibility of nuclear war between the feuding neighbours.
Jai Hind #IndianArmedForces 🇮🇳 🙏🏽
— PRIYANKA (@priyankachopra) February 26, 2019
Ayesha Malik, a Pakistani-American who runs a car dealership in Alaska and is an Instagram influencer and YouTuber, called out Chopra during the Beautycon Q&A, saying, “It was kind of hard hearing you talk about humanity, because as your neighbour, a Pakistani, I know you’re a bit of hypocrite…. you are a UNICEF Ambassador for peace, and you are encouraging nuclear war against Pakistan. There is no winner in this. As a Pakistani, millions of people like me have supported you in your business, and you want nuclear war.”
Priyanka Chopra tweeted during a time when we were this 👌🏽 close to sending nukes to one another. Instead of advocating for peace she tweeted in support of the Indian army pic.twitter.com/LhbMkOW59v
— Ayesha Malik (@Spishaa) August 11, 2019
The whole thing came across as uncomfortable and complicated, especially because Chopra used the same event to promote women’s empowerment, while the woman in the audience had the microphone snatched from her hands by security before she was finished speaking. Some Twitter users, however, found Chopra’s response “smart and purposeful” and the hashtag #ISupportPriyanka was borne out of fans of the actress who felt she carried herself well.
Malik has since spoken to Gulf News about why she confronted the star: “She had so many months to read up on this. I actually believed there was a part of her that would say something correct,” she told the publication. “The thing between her and other Bollywood actors is that Priyanka is international, she is Mrs Jonas, she is more than just a Bollywood actress. Therefore, I was more frustrated with her than the other Bollywood actors [who said ‘Jai Hind’ too].”
Of course Priyanka is not expected to solve a decades-long conflict and even peace ambassadors don’t always get it right when it comes to sharing “patriotic” feelings that can be differently interpreted.
So let’s hope if her stance on India and Pakistan relations does come up again, Chopra will answer in a way that unites, not divides.