When and why did the idea of starting Miss Pakistan World come to you?
It was when I was in the University of Ottawa in the Capital of Canada and when I saw that Canada gave us the right to do as we want without any obstacles, I thought why not a pageant for Pakistani women! The pageant began with the ultimate goal of changing the perception of Pakistani women around the world. I thought to myself that if I am in Canada and since Canada is all about diversity then why not a beauty pageant! It may sound a bit weird to the feminist movements in Canada but this pageant actually brought Pakistani girls, and gave them a platform of recognition as well as created patriotic feelings for Pakistan as well as created a new hope for a “Changed Pakistan.”
How was the idea received initially? Who responded well? Youngsters!
The response was mixed, with the initial resentment from the elders of the community. They simply did not want change, and I had no choice but to force it on them! The new generation of Pakistani American, or Pakistani Canadian as well Pakistani Europeans responded well. But their parents were very pessimistic and many of the kids too got converted into thinking it was not a good thing. However those families who were more enlightened in terms of changing Pakistan did come forward and joined hands with me and kept the Miss Pakistan World pageant alive since 2002!
What is the definition of beauty for you?
I would lie if I said that beauty is always internal! But the truth is that beauty keeps changing for generations. I remember the time when skinny was in, and now healthy is in! These days’ girls and boys hit the gym and make sure that they have fabulous bodies and hence polish their skills in dance, music and sports. They are a lot more confident and secure. Their confidence and overall confident bodies make them a strong candidate for the Miss Pakistan World as well as the Mrs. Pakistan World competitions. So for me beauty is healthy these days and I respect those people who actually spend their time in keeping themselves healthy through working out as well as eating right and that brings out the right attitude and confidence in them!
What do you think Pakistani beauty? Are the likes of Veena Malik and Meera representatives of Pakistani beauty and women?
Once upon a time, Pakistani beauty meant being shy and not knowing about the world! Today Pakistani beauty means a strong woman who is capable to stand on her own two feet and run the world. Meera and Veena are both good friends of mine! I have known them for quite some time! Both Veena and Meera are exceptionally gorgeous women! I have seen fans hover around them all the time and they don’t only have fans from Pakistan but India as well. Both women have a strong presence and yes they definitely represent Pakistan as both of them are Pakistani as well as married to Pakistani men! What other choice would they have to represent? They are all pure Pakistanis all throughout! Being Pakistani is Veena or Meera, or anyone who loves Pakistan and both of them love Pakistan dearly. I remember Meera once told me that she was home sick in India, and I knew it then that she always preferred Pakistan no matter what!
Have women living in Pakistan also ever participated in it?
To be honest, not yet! They cannot get visas as easily as USA, UK and Canada don’t have a very easy policy on visas for people from Asia. But soon they will be able to once the Miss Pakistan pageant is established in Pakistan.
How have your past beauty queens done?
All did well. Some got married and most of them now have children. I was surprised to see that there are already 7-10 Miss Pakistan World babies born already! These future kids will know that their moms were Miss Pakistan World title holders. It makes me proud that this generation of Miss Pakistan World has now gone forward and they have children, which means a new generation of pageant kids are born to pageant moms. It’s a sense of great achievement for me, even though I won’t get a medal for it! Some of the unmarried ones are hosts of TV & Radio, some are working at fabulous jobs, some are mainstream models, and some own businesses and so forth. But for me the happiest moments are when they have a family as the seed that I sowed 12 years ago is growing and passing on to new generations.
Do you see you pageant being held in Lahore or Karachi one day?
That day is very close, and I do see it happening. Pakistan has changed since President Musharraf, and I thank him for being such an amazing man during his time for Pakistan! I miss an incredible man like him being our leader.
What would you comment on the present day situation on President Musharraf?
For me, President Musharraf will always be this handsome, smart Army General/President who took Pakistan by the horns and changed its direction. He taught good lessons to fundamentalists and extremists, and brought the name of Pakistan back on the map of the world. He opened up media, music, television, films and educational institutes and did as much as possible for women’s rights in Pakistan! He is not in power and the current government is troubling him but they can never take away what he did and how there is so much love for him from the public. We all remember the great times we had when he always surprised us with opening up doors for Pakistan. The current government can call him a traitor but he has fought two wars for Pakistan, laid his life down for his country and no one can take that away from a man who gave his country his heart and could have given his life anytime! President Musharraf will always be the true President of Pakistan!
What do you those who say that beauty pageants are commodification of women?
I would tell them that they are narrow-minded, and they don’t live and let live. I would tell them that they are wrong by stopping someone’s freedom to choose what he/she wants in life! I would tell them to leave their thoughts back in their homes as nothing will ever be the same! The existence of Miss Pakistan World, Mrs. Pakistan World and Mr. Pakistan Word will always be alive no matter what!