The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is facing calls from Pakistan to remove actress Priyanka Chopra as a goodwill ambassador for peace after she tweeted a phrase that translates as “victory to India” in support of the country’s armed forces in February.
Pakistani Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari wrote to UNICEF’s executive director requesting that the actress be “immediately denotified” from that position, in a letter dated Aug. 20.
The letter was tweeted by Pakistan’s Ministry of Human Rights on Wednesday.
In the letter, she accused Chopra’s public positions of being “completely against the principles of peace and goodwill” that she’s supposed to promote as a goodwill ambassador.
“Her jingoism and support for violations by the Modi government of international conventions and UNSC resolutions on Kashmir, as well as support for war, including a nuclear war, undermines the credibility of the UN position to which she has been elevated.”
Neither Chopra nor the UN responded to CNN‘s request for comment when the network pursued the story.
But at a Thursday briefing, Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said goodwil ambassadors “retain the right to speak about issues that interest or concern them” when they speak in a personal capacity, The Times of India reported.
Mazari’s letter came as tensions have ramped up between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir region.
They originate with an Aug. 5 decision by Narendra Modi‘s nationalist government to strip Kashmir, which has a Muslim-majority population, of its special autonomous status and statehood.
India has since tried to tackle unrest by instituting a security crackdown and news blackout that have hampered the ability of residents to communicate with their families.
The blackout has seen people lose cellphone communication, as well as internet and cable TV.
Protests have followed in Kashmir, and over 2,000 people arrested or detained in the region.
Both anti-India protesters and pro-India Kashmiri leaders are among those who have been taken in, police officials said.
Chopra is facing scrutiny for an act that came months before Kashmir lost its status.
In February, she tweeted “jai hind,” a Hindi phrase translated as “victory to India,” with the hashtag #IndianArmedForces and a prayer-hands emoji.
That tweet came as India and Pakistan were believed to have been on the edge of nuclear war.
Those tensions followed a number of air strikes by India on Pakistani militants, in retaliation for a separate attack on Indian troops that had taken place in Kashmir, BBC News reported.
Ayesha Malik, a Pakistani woman, confronted Chopra about the tweet at BeautyCon in Los Angeles earlier this month.
“It was kind of hard hearing you talk about humanity because as your neighbour, a Pakistani, I know you’re a bit of a hypocrite,” she said, yelling as she spoke with the star.
“You are United Nations goodwill ambassador for peace and you are encouraging nuclear war in Pakistan.”
Chopra responded, “I hear you.”
Then she said, “whenever you’re done venting… got it, done? OK, cool.”
Chopra went on to say she has “many, many friends from Pakistan, and war is not something that I am really fond of but I am patriotic.”
She added, “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.”
Chopra continued, “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 questions and your voice.”
UN goodwill ambassadors of peace are chosen from fields such as entertainment, literature and sports to “help focus worldwide attention on the work of the United Nations.”
Chopra is not the only UNICEF goodwill ambassador who has been criticized for political comments.
Martial arts star Jackie Chan is also an ambassador, and he stirred controversy when he described himself as a “national flag guard” after Hong Kong protesters, demonstrating against an extradition bill, had thrown a Chinese flag into Victoria Harbour, the South China Morning Post reported.
His remarks came as part of a social media campaign launched by CCTV, China’s state broadcaster.
- With files from Katie Scott and The Associated Press
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