Sonia Ahmed, President of Miss Pakistan World
Amidst the political turmoil happening in Pakistan these days, a set of optimistic Pakistani women have set forward to improving the image of their country - Pakistan. Ayesha Gilani, the current Miss Pakistan World 2009, made trips to China and Philippines to spread the good name of Pakistan. The country that has a beauty pageant set out of its own land, may from time to time acknowledge the fact that bikini adorned Pakistani girls are now part of a reality that most media critics and religious fanatics just shrug off, but nevertheless, just in the year 2009 reports of five international pageants proved successful.
One must wonder how beauty pageants change the image of Pakistanis worldwide, well for that Batool Cheema former Miss Pakistan World from the year 2004 declared, that just going to different countries and wearing the Pakistan sash brings a lot of attention. She also stated that people stopped her on the streets during public appearances and said that they could not believe Pakistan can be active in something like a beauty pageant. Coming back from Beijing, China and Berlin, Germany, Cheema is more than optimistic about going and representing Pakistan in other nations such as Poland and South Africa and is gearing up for the forthcoming events.
Why then this Pakistani pageant being held in Canada and attracting an array of Pakistani American, Pakistani Canadian or Pakistani European girls is in existence, when the nation as a whole is doing what its best in doing, ignoring till some outsider discovers them? Well, according to the President of Miss Pakistan World, Sonia Ahmed who basically prides herself in doing what no other Pakistani in or out of Pakistan could do, says that Pakistan is a bit slow in giving importance and don't have the capacity to understand the potential of their own people. Seven years have gone by and definitely, from the bikini factors to last year's controversy of how President Musharraf was considered extremely handsome by one ex- Miss Pakistan World. News headlines have been made thanks to the massive Indian Media. It is only then Pakistani media followed the Miss Pakistan World news, states Ahmed.
In Malaysia, where Pakistanis reside in great numbers, a recent Miss Pakistan World runner up, Naila Afzal, who is now the first Peshawari girl to make it to international pageants, representing Pakistan, said that she was overwhelmed with the response. Pakistanis love the fact that there is a Miss Pakistan existing, Afzal said, prancing around in her pretty red sash, which reads loud and clear, "Pakistan."
How optimistic can Pakistanis be? Since the Lollywood industry is not moving, and the music industry is relying on hits from neighboring countries, and where 7 years ago pageants literally did not exist for Pakistanis, how does it all look for Pakistani people? Well, if one looks at the pageant industry, even though its located out of Pakistan, one can say that maybe, just maybe there is something at least going steady, unlike any other entertainment related industry from Pakistan.
What exactly causes no love given to these young and beautiful girls who are bold and representing Pakistan? Well for that Sonia Ahmed, the lady who took a step to start this for her fellow country people, said that majority of Pakistani media has hard core feminists and religious fanatics in their media industry, who don't want to write about these issues without an angle of a bad situation or just simply how morally wrong these women can be. Stating that in the past the pageant was attacked by Amna Buttar, a known feminist and talk show hosts Nadia Khan and many no namers, just proves that.
Pakistani people want this and this is an industry that exists around the world and Pakistan has to be a part of it no matter what, is the statement Sonia Ahmed will stick by, no matter what may come her way - feminists or islamists. Surely proven for 7 straight years, no matter what the growing pains were from the pageant world for the company. So whether its Ayesha Gilani in Philippines, Batool Cheema in Germany, Naila Afzal in Malaysia or Sonia Ahmed in Canada, it is amazing to see that at least one industry has stayed steady for Pakistan.