Why Pakistan is disowning its first ever Miss Universe contestant


On Thursday final week, 24-year-old Erica Robin received the inaugural Miss Universe Pakistan pageant held within the Maldives. It ought to have been a second of celebration for Karachi-born Robin, but within the days that adopted the competitors has confronted an outpouring of anger again residence that has been fuelled on the heighest degree of presidency.

A deeply conservative Muslim-majority nation, Pakistan has by no means earlier than participated within the international Miss Universe competitors. With the backlash to Robin’s victory spanning politicians to non secular leaders and together with the nation’s caretaker prime minister, it stays unclear whether or not the mannequin can be allowed to participate within the 72nd International Miss Universe Pageant to be held in El Salvador in November.

The federal government of caretaker PM Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has requested the nation’s intelligence company to analyze the organisers of the pageant, and the way they have been in a position to maintain the competitors seemingly within the nation’s identify with out the federal government’s approval.

Kakar has known as the staging of the Maldives pageant a “shameful act” and an “insult and exploitation of girls of Pakistan”.

Who’s Erica Robin?

Robin has a level in Enterprise Administration and began her skilled modelling profession in January 2020, along with her photographs showing in a number of magazines together with Diva Journal Pakistan. She advised Voice of America lately that she felt a variety of duty on her shoulders as she believed it might be the primary time Pakistan would have a participant within the international Miss Universe pageant.

“Nevertheless, I received’t do something that might hurt the fame of the nation,” she added.

After she was declared the winner on Thursday at a ceremony held at Brennia Kottefaru resort within the Raa Atoll within the Maldives, the backlash was swift.

An Islamic scholar from Pakistan, Taqi Usmani, demanded that the federal government take motion in opposition to the organisers of the pageant and dispel the concept Robin was “representing Pakistan”.

One other polician, Mushtaq Ahmed Khan, known as the occasion an “insult to Pakistan”. He posted on X/Twitter: “Who’re the organisers of this magnificence pageant in Pakistan? Who’s doing this shameful act?”

How she entered the pageant

In March it was reported that Dubai-based company Yugen Group was organising the first-ever Miss Universe Pageant and had invited purposes from Pakistani girls. The company additionally owns the Miss Universe Bahrain and Miss Universe Egypt franchises, in keeping with stories.

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Robin utilized to the decision for contestants and amid a whole lot of entries, she made it to the highest 10 contestants after which into the highest 5.

After her victory, the 24-year-old mannequin from Karachi — who was born in a Christian household — mentioned: “I’m honoured and humbled to be the primary ever Miss Universe Pakistan and I wish to spotlight the great thing about Pakistan. Now we have a lovely tradition that the media shouldn’t be speaking about.

“Pakistani individuals are very beneficiant, form and hospitable. On prime of that, I want to invite everybody to go to my nation and take a look at essentially the most luxurious Pakistani cuisines and discover our enchanting nature, our snow-capped mountains, our greeneries and our progressive landscapes.”

Earlier this yr, Josh Yugen, nationwide director of Miss Universe Pakistan and the founding father of Yugen Group, advised The Nationwide: “We wish to localise our strategy with out altering the dynamics of the Miss Universe model. We’re nonetheless going to indicate girls from Pakistan who’re fantastically assured and who’re the epitome of tales of goals turning into realities.”

He additionally claimed that “a whole lot” of Pakistani girls utilized for the inaugural Miss Universe Pakistan.

Yugen Group introduced in March that it had acquired the rights to the competitors.

Miss Universe’s official web site says that “the ladies who take part on this worldwide platform function inspirational leaders and position fashions to their communities and followers world wide”.

There have been 5 finalists chosen earlier this yr from throughout Pakistan. Alongside Robin the contestants have been 24-year-old Hira Inam from Lahore, 28-year-old Jessica Wilson from Rawalpindi, 19-year-old US-born Malika Alvi and 26-year-old Sabrina Wasim from Punjab.

Introducing Robin as one of many contestants, Yugen Group wrote on their Instagram web page: “Regardless of her challenges belonging within the nation’s minority group, she works so exhausting to change into one of the best model of herself. She desires to be an instrument to see constructive adjustments in Pakistan and she or he desires to focus on the various neighborhood within the nation.”

The put up mentioned: “She desires to work in the direction of organisations that advocate with [sic] training and girls empowerment. By telling her personal private journey, she goals to be an emblem of hope to younger Pakistani women to comply with their goals.”

Breakthrough second… and backlash

The crowning of the first-ever Miss Universe Pakistan on 14 September was streamed dwell on the Miss Universe pageant YouTube channel. Robin’s win was initially celebrated by some again in Pakistan, however the overwhelming response has been outrage.

The pageant got here underneath the federal government’s radar when journalist Ansar Abbasi wrote on X/Twitter final week: “Who allowed 5 Pakistani women to characterize Pakistan within the Miss Universe magnificence pageant? Both, it was determined by Prime Minister Anwaar-ul Haq Kakar or this resolution was taken by any of his cupboard members or advisers?” He requested, can anybody characterize Pakistan with out the permission of the federal government of Pakistan?

Minister for data and broadcasting in Pakistan, Murtaza Solangi, mentioned on X/Twitter: “The federal government and state of Pakistan are represented by state and authorities establishments. Our authorities has not designated any non-state and non-governmental individual or establishment for any such exercise and no such individual/establishment can characterize the state/authorities. The tip.”

Magnificence Queens and Magnificence Pageants in Pakistan

In Pakistan, though there is no such thing as a authorized restriction on taking part in magnificence pageants, some imagine that the gown codes within the contest go in opposition to their Islamic beliefs.

This doesn’t imply that Pakistan doesn’t have any magnificence pageants. GeoTV reported earlier this month that just some months after being topped Miss Pakistan Common 2023, “Dr Kapotaqkhy Chanchala proudly represented Pakistan within the Miss World Tourism 2023 competitors held in Sri Lanka.” It added that she was embarking on a brand new journey to “unfurl the Pakistani flag in Vietnam”.

In 2018, it was reported that India’s Miss Diva Supranational 2018 Aditi Hundia and Miss Supranational Pakistan 2018 Anzhelika Tahir have been taking part within the Miss Supranational 2018 pageant in Poland amid tensions between the 2 nations they have been representing.

On social media, the two magnificence queens posed collectively holding the flags of their respective nations and wrote: “We hope sooner or later all wars will cease, each battle will cease and the world can be a peaceable place.”

The winner of final yr’s Ms Pakistan World contest, Dr Sadaf Khalid, mentioned she participated within the contest “to uplift its constructive picture and to characterize vivid and comfortable picture of the nation”.

Nevertheless, the truth is that the majority of those magnificence queens don’t keep in Pakistan anymore. In a 2008 report by the New York Instances, Amna Buttar, a founding father of the Asian-American Community Towards Abuse of Human Rights who lives in Lahore was quoted as saying: “In Pakistan, we are attempting to get primary rights for girls: proper to marry, proper to divorce, equal alternative for job and training, and points like Miss Pakistan create issues for this motion.”

She added: “A median Pakistani younger lady doesn’t wish to put on a bikini in public, and for her you will need to have equal alternative and all focus needs to be on that, and never on a pageant the place solely the elite can take part.”

Help for Robin

Human rights activist Zohra Yusuf — who’s a former chairperson of the Human Rights Fee of Pakistan — is amongst those that have come out in help of Robin. Daybreak quoted her as saying that first Malala Yusfzai and Sharmeen Chinoy have been reviled, and now Robin was equally being focused. “This angle is misogynistic and condemnable,” she mentioned.

“Pakistan belongs to all. Each Pakistani can characterize Pakistan anyplace, every time, nevertheless,” journalist Mariana Baabar wrote on X/Twitter.

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