KARACHI: Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari has written to the head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), asking her to remove Indian actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas as its goodwill ambassador over her pro-war comments, it emerged on Wednesday.
The minister’s move came days after Ms Chopra was accosted at an event in the United States by Pakistani-American activist Ayesha Malik over a tweet sent out by the actor earlier this year in favour of the Indian army.
In her letter to Unicef executive director Henrietta H. Fore, Ms Mazari pointed to the ongoing crisis in India-held Kashmir, saying it was a result of Prime Minister Narendra Modi government’s violation of all international conventions that India was a signatory to, along with the UN Security Council resolutions.
The minister said India’s Hindu nationalist-led government was conducting a “campaign of ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Muslims” in held Kashmir.
“The Indian occupation forces have also intensified their campaign of using pellet guns against women and children as well as violence and abuse of women in IoK,” she wrote, adding that the Modi government’s policy was similar to the “Nazi doctrine of ethnic cleansing, racism, fascism and genocide”.
She pointed out that Ms Chopra — who was made as a global Unicef goodwill ambassador in 2016 — had publicly endorsed this position of the Indian government and also allegedly supported the veiled nuclear threat issued to Pakistan by the Indian defence minister.
“All this goes completely against the principles of peace and goodwill that Ms Chopra is supposed to uphold as a UN Goodwill Ambassador for Peace,” Ms Mazari said, adding the actor’s jingoism and support for war undermined the credibility of her position as a UN representative.
“Unless she is removed immediately, the very idea of a UN Goodwill Ambassador for Peace becomes a mockery globally,” she said, urging the Unicef chief to immediately de-notify Ms Chopra as their ambassador.
Ms Chopra has garnered widespread criticism on social media over her response to activist Ayesha Malik’s question at an event in Los Angeles earlier this month.
Ms Malik had accused the Indian actress of being a “hypocrite” and “encouraging nuclear war against Pakistan” by tweeting in favour of the Indian army in February, when Pakistan and India came to the brink of war in the wake of the Pulwama attack in held Kashmir.
In response, Ms Chopra described Ms Malik’s statement as “venting” and instead of properly replying to her, went on to say: “I have many, many friends from Pakistan and I am from India. War is not something I’m really fond of but I am patriotic, so I’m sorry if I hurt sentiments of 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 that you came at me right now ... girl, don’t yell. We’re all here for love. Don’t embarrass yourself.”
Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2019