TORONTO: Completing 10 years of the Miss Pakistan beauty pageant despite opposition from some sections of people, pageant president Sonia Ahmed (seen above on the right with new Miss Pakistan World) opens up about why she started the contest and her difficulties.
Q: How does it feel to have completed a decade of the pageant?
A: I feel good and accomplished. I feel as though now I have given life to the pageant industry for Pakistan. And I guess now people will think more seriously about Pakistan and the fact that Miss Pakistan World has been representing Pakistan in international pageants for a decade now! Ten years is a long time, and I have grown up with this event, and this pageant has been very lucky for me, as I got to meet a lot of people and had a blast. When I turn back, I only see all the positive things, I have gained from it!
Q: What was your mission when you started the pageant?
A: My mission was just to start it, and lay the foundation of pageantry for Pakistan. My other motives were to change the hypocrisy and extremism for Pakistan. When I first started Miss Pakistan I was not even sure that I would have done it for 10 long years. I am surprised myself. And I have learnt from my mistakes and as of now, my mission has changed as well. I am no longer into changing Pakistan; I am more concerned about maintaining a very successful and profitable business “Miss/Mr. /Mrs. Pakistan World.”
Q: What have been accomplishments and and what have been the roadblocks?
A: My roadblocks were my people (the Pakistani people) and the Pakistani media and the strong hypocrisy that prevails among the Pakistani people. They were so rigid and still are! My accomplishments are that I had the support of a few strong people who were Pakistani but liberal minded and they helped in building this pageant. Now that the rigid side has seen the success of this 10 year pageant, things are changing and this year, I had seen a lot of those rigid people in my hall during the show. I guess, I can say that this was an accomplishment in itself, as to change their mentality; it took me 10 long years!
Q: You have interacted with so many young men and women of Pakistani origin in the western world. What bothers them and what kind of image they want to project of their culture and country of origin?
A: The new generation really is not too bothered, but they are very liberal and very much bold. The only thing that bothers them is that people around them don’t think them as Pakistanis, as they have never seen Pakistanis dressed like that or who are liberal like that. So the new generation wants to project Pakistan in the way they normally are. They want an outgoing Pakistan, a modern Pakistan!
Q: You have some opponents. What do you say to them?
A: I just want to say that it’s time for them to give up. There is nothing much they can do about it anymore and that Miss Pakistan will carry on forever!
Q: Any thoughts about the future? Do you plan to take it to other places in the world, including Pakistan one day?
A: I will take it to other nations, depending on the situation. I will not take it to Pakistan, until I get the President’s house as the venue. I want to grow this into a successful business now, and grow in quality and quantity.