ohLast Thursday, Erica Robin, 24, won the inaugural edition of Miss Universe. Pakistan competition held in Maldives. It should have been a moment of celebration for Karachi-born Robin, but in the days since the competition has been met with a groundswell of anger at home that has been fueled at the highest level of government.
Pakistan, a deeply conservative Muslim-majority country, had never before participated in the world Miss Universe competition. With reaction to Robin’s victory ranging from politicians to religious leaders and including the country’s interim prime minister, it is still unclear whether the model will be allowed to participate in the 72nd Miss Universe World Pageant to be held in El Salvador. in November.
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar’s government has asked the country’s intelligence agency to investigate the pageant’s organizers and how they were able to hold the competition apparently on behalf of the country without government approval.
Kakar called the holding of the parade in Maldives a “shameful act” and an “insult and exploitation of the women of Pakistan.”
Who is Erica Robin?
Robin has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and began her career as a professional model in January 2020, and her photographs appear in several magazines including Diva Pakistan Magazine. She recently told Voice of America that she felt a lot of responsibility was on her shoulders because she believed it would be the first time Pakistan would have a contestant in the world Miss Universe pageant.
“However, I will not do anything that could damage the country’s reputation,” he added.
After she was declared the winner on Thursday at a ceremony held at the Brennia Kottefaru resort on Raa Atoll in the Maldives, the reaction was immediate.
A Pakistani Islamic scholar, Taqi Usmani, demanded that the government take action against the pageant organizers and dispel the idea that Robin was “representing Pakistan.”
Another politician, Mushtaq Ahmed Khan, called the event an “insult to Pakistan.” He posted on X/Twitter: “Who are the organizers of this beauty pageant in Pakistan? Who is committing this shameful act?
How did you enter the contest?
In March it was reported that Dubai-based agency Yugen Group was organizing the first Miss Universe pageant and had invited applications from Pakistani women. The agency also owns the Miss Universe Bahrain and Miss Universe Egypt franchises, according to reports.
Robin entered the call for contestants and, out of hundreds of entries, made it to the top 10 contestants and then the top five.
After her win, the 24-year-old Karachi model, who was born in a Christian family, said: “I feel humbled and humbled to be the first Miss Universe Pakistan and I want to highlight the beauty of Pakistan. We have a beautiful culture that the media doesn’t talk about.
“The Pakistani people are very generous, kind and hospitable. Apart from that, I would like to invite everyone to visit my country and try the most sumptuous Pakistani cuisine and explore our enchanting nature, our snow-capped mountains, our greenery and our progressive landscapes.”
Earlier this year, Josh Yugen, national director of Miss Universe Pakistan and founder of the Yugen Group, said The National: “We want to localize our approach without changing the dynamics of the Miss Universe brand. “We are still going to show women from Pakistan who have great self-confidence and who are the epitome of stories of dreams becoming realities.”
She also claimed that “hundreds” of Pakistani women applied for the inaugural Miss Universe Pakistan.
Yugen Group announced in March that it had acquired the rights to the contest.
The official Miss Universe website says that “the women who participate in this international platform serve as inspiring leaders and role models to their communities and fans around the world.”
Earlier this year, five finalists were selected from across Pakistan. Along with Robin, the contestants were Hira Inam, 24, from Lahore, Jessica Wilson, 28, from Rawalpindi, Malika Alvi, 19, born in the United States, and Sabrina Wasim, 26, from Punjab.
Introducing Robin as one of the contestants, Yugen Group wrote on their Instagram page: “Despite her challenges being from the country’s minority group, she works very hard to become the best version of herself. She wants to be instrumental in seeing positive changes in Pakistan and she wants to highlight the country’s diverse community.”
The post said: “She wants to work with organizations that advocate for (sic) education and empowerment of women. By recounting her own personal journey, she aims to be a symbol of hope for young Pakistani girls to follow their dreams.”
Decisive moment… and violent reaction
The coronation of the first Miss Universe Pakistan on September 14 was broadcast live on the Miss Universe pageant’s YouTube channel. Robin’s victory was initially celebrated by some in Pakistan, but the overwhelming reaction has been outrage.
The pageant went unnoticed by the government when journalist Ansar Abbasi wrote on X/Twitter last week: “Who allowed five Pakistani girls to represent Pakistan in the Miss Universe beauty pageant? “Or was it decided by Prime Minister Anwaar-ul Haq Kakar or was this decision taken by any of his cabinet members or advisors?” He asked: can anyone represent Pakistan without the permission of the government of Pakistan?
Pakistan’s Information and Broadcasting Minister Murtaza Solangi said on X/Twitter: “The government and state of Pakistan are represented by the state and government institutions. Our government has not appointed any non-state or non-governmental person or institution for such activity and no person/institution can represent the state/government. The end.”
Beauty queens and beauty pageants in Pakistan
In Pakistan, although there is no legal restriction on participating in beauty pageants, some believe that the pageant dress codes go against their Islamic beliefs.
This does not mean that Pakistan does not have beauty pageants. geotv reported earlier this month that just a few months after being crowned Miss Universal Pakistan 2023, “Dr Kapotaqkhy Chanchala proudly represented Pakistan at the Miss World Tourism 2023 pageant held in Sri Lanka.” She added that she was embarking on a new journey to “unfurl the Pakistani flag in Vietnam”.
In 2018, it was reported that Miss Diva Supranational 2018 of India, Aditi Hundia, and Miss Supranational Pakistan 2018, Anzhelika Tahir, were participating in the Miss Supranational 2018 pageant in Poland amidst tensions between the two countries they represented.
On social networks, the two beauty queens They posed together holding the flags of their respective countries and wrote: “We hope that one day all wars will stop, all conflicts will stop and the world will be a peaceful place.”
The winner of last year’s Ms Pakistan World pageant, Dr Sadaf Khalid, said she participated in the pageant “to enhance her positive image and portray a bright and happy image of the country”.
However, the reality is that most of these beauty queens do not stay in Pakistan anymore. In a 2008 report by New York TimesAmna Buttar, founder of the Asian American Network Against Human Rights Abuse, who lives in Lahore, was quoted as saying: “In Pakistan, we are trying to get basic rights for women: right to marry, right to divorce, equality of opportunities. for work and education, and issues like Miss Pakistan create problems for this movement.”
He added: “An average young Pakistani girl does not want to wear a bikini in public, and for her it is important to have equal opportunities and all the attention should be focused on that, and not on a contest in which only the elite can participate.”
I support Robin
Human rights activist Zohra Yusuf, former chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, is among those who have supported Robin. Sunrise He quoted her as saying that first Malala Yusfzai and Sharmeen Chinoy were vilified, and now Robin was being similarly attacked. “This attitude is misogynistic and condemnable,” she said.
“Pakistan belongs to everyone. Every Pakistani can represent Pakistan anywhere and anytime,” journalist Mariana Baabar wrote on X/Twitter.