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Bollywood stars need to do better

By March 1, 2019 Culture

Earlier this week,  the Indian Air Force entered Pakistani airspace and catalyzed significant unease and tension between the two regions who have a long, ambivalent history together. Without delving too much into the heavy prequel, today’s impending war between the two nations stems from a generational dispute over a single, Himalayan region; Kashmir has been in the middle of a war zone since 1947. Earlier in February, a bomb blast in the disputed region of Kashmir killed 40 Indian paramilitaries and this prompted India to send military jets more than 50 miles inside Pakistan. This was the first attack on undisputed Pakistani territory since 1971. Then, on Wednesday morning, Pakistani jets struck Indian territory near Kashmir’s ceasefire line. India has been accused of trying to give Kashmiris’ independence struggle the colour of terrorism and have been adamant to maintain that Pakistan is supporting that supposed terrorism by going against India and by supporting Kashmir. This clash has led to the closure of airspace across Pakistan and north India, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded as airlines cancelled flights to the region.

What’s made this entire situation worse is that the conflict has been heightened by an impending general election in India. Indian media outlets have been accused of spreading “fake news” where supposed footage of India’s strike on Pakistan actually turned out to be a clip from a video game. Abhinandan Varthaman was one of the Indian pilots that were shot down and captured by Pakistani officials on Wednesday. Prime Minister Imran Khan released Varthaman as a sign of peace and goodwill, another means to encourage Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to come to the table and engage in discussions rather than fuel a war. Viral videos showed Mr. Varthaman enjoying a cup of chai and commending his captors as being “thorough gentlemen” and maintained that “the tea is fantastic.”

Amidst the chaos, Bollywood celebrities began showing their support for the Indian Armed forces and were openly applauding their actions. Many have called these actors to account for encouraging a war and ignorantly supporting ongoing conflict as opposed to open dialogue and peaceful resolutions. Celebrities like Priyanka Chopra especially have come under the limelight in a negative way.

Chopra, who is a good will ambassador for UNICEF, was called out for glorifying war. Pakistani actress Armeena Khan was not afraid to speak out about Chopra’s blatant hypocrisy.

An online petition has been launched since Chopra’s tweet to strip her of her UN Ambassadorship, gaining more than 50,000 signatures so far. According to the petition:

“Priyanka Chopra doesn’t deserve to be a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN.

In an attempt to express her nationalism towards her country India, she tweeted her support for the Indian Air Force’s violation of entering into Pakistan’s territory.

Through her tweet, she has celebrated an attempt at war against Pakistan. Someone as influential as Priyanka Chopra, who has a massive following globally, must know how war is never the solution to win at each other.

War destroys the life of innocent people on both sides of the border and must be condemned at any cost. Considering her role as the Ambassador of child rights and education for girls, Chopra needs to learn a lesson on how devastating the impact of war can be, especially for children.

She must realise the significance of the position she holds and United Nations must take back her ambassadorship since she is neither an ambassador of goodwill nor peace.”

Other Bollywood celebrities such as Ranveer Singh and Ajay Devgan have also tweeted their support and have been called out.

Pakistani celebrities such as Urwa Hocane, Iqra Aziz, and Hareem Farooq, responded swiftly to their peers in the industry with messages of peace.

Social media has been abuzz this entire week and has been torn in two. Nationalism however, ought not to become synonymous with perpetuating acts of war. Regardless of our cultural, religious, or ethnic ties, war is something that rarely solves the deeply underlying issues we can only address through dialogue. It is disheartening to say the least to see Bollywood actors and actresses openly express their support for violence and war. The same actors we grew up watching and celebrating have somehow become a little more distant in our hearts. It’s important that the celebrities that hold influence and power, to whatever degree, use those resources to bring people together, not separate them into bubbles of fear.

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