I will start this short post with a personal incident. More than 2 decades back I was friendly with a Muslim dentist girl in Mumbai. We moved all over Mumbai on my Royal Enfield and she once remarked that it was a pity that there was no outlet for a Muslim girl to express herself in the fashion and beauty world.
Much later I came to know that a lady from Pakistan who was resident of Canada had concieved and launched a Miss World Pakistan beauty contst especially for Muslim girls from Pakistan. She is Sonia Ahmed who launched the contest in 2002 in Canada. The contest was a hit and Muslim girls flew in from Pakistan to take part. Many of the girls were reimbursed airfare from Pakistan to Canada. The first Miss World Pakistan winner was Zehra Sheerazi who went on to represent Pakistan in internatational World Miss University.
The contest has been held every year and there is no shortage of sponsors. Obviously this contest has irritated the Pakistan government and the Mullah lobby, but Sonia has continued unfazed. The popularity of the contest has gone up and girls who have won this contest have all eschewed the Burkha and carried themselevs withaplomb. The contest cannot be held in Pakistan and hence it is held out of Pakistan.
The 2014 contest is being shifted to New York.
The 2013 contest was a great hit and the winner was Shanzay Hayat who hails from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. from the restive North West frontier region of Pakistan. Shanzay was educated in Islamabad and represnted Pakistan in international pageants. Hayat was the first Pakistani beauty queen to take Pakistan to the top 15 round and win subtitles for Pakistan
The contest is a tremendous outlet for Pakistani girls who are hemmed in by a repressive society dominated by dogma. It is clear that given the opportunity Pakistani Muslim girls are second to none. One can see that many girls are trying to break into mainstream Hindi cinema as well as Pakistan is a closed society. Pakistan will move forward and I hope the speed is faster. All photos from Wiki coomons except the last which is loaned by a friend