Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, the interim Prime Minister (PM), has instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) to initiate communication with the UAE government regarding a private company that is conducting a beauty pageant under the name ‘Pakistan.’
Despite lacking approval from the Pakistani government, this event has selected contestants to represent Pakistan in the Miss Universe Pageant, as reported by the News. Before this, Prime Minister Kakar had directed the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to investigate the details of the organization responsible for this pageant and how they are exploiting Pakistan’s reputation on the global stage. Subsequently, the IB provided the Prime Minister with a briefing on its findings.
According to the report, the rights to represent Pakistan in the 2023 competition have been secured by the Dubai-based business organization, Yugen Publishing and Marketing. Pakistani women between the ages of 24 and 28, regardless of their marital status, have been invited to apply on the company’s new website, houseofyugen.com, starting from March 4, 2023. Notably, the Dubai-based organization also holds the franchise for Miss Universe in Bahrain and Egypt. Additionally, the IB’s research revealed that there were 200 candidates from around the world, and the Pakistani participants were chosen through a voting process. On September 14, 2023, a ceremony was held where one of the five finalists was named the winner. The article reports that the Yugen Group is the primary sponsor of this event in Dubai.
According to the information provided, Josh Yugen holds the position of Miss Universe Pakistan National Director, and the Yugen Group has established a collaboration with the voting platform ‘Choicely,’ allowing viewers of the pageant to cast their votes for their preferred contestants. The top five finalists included Malika Alvi, 19, from the US; Sabrina Wasim, 26, from Punjab; and Erica Rabin, 24, from Karachi, who represented Pakistan’s leading contestants. Hira Inam, 24, from Lahore, and Jessica Wilson, 28, from Rawalpindi, were also prominent contenders. Voting concluded on September 13 at 7 o’clock, and Erica Rabin was crowned the first-ever Miss Universe Pakistan. Erica will now compete in the Miss Universe competition held worldwide, featuring contestants from over 60 countries.
On November 18, 2023, the month-long competition will conclude with a final event in El Salvador, where the current champion from the US, R’Bonney Gabriel, will pass the crown to the new victor. In the future, according to the report, the organization’s assertion that participants are a true reflection of their nations may not hold. According to information obtained from the Miss Universe Organization (MUO) website, ‘national directors’ are essentially corporate entities that approach the MUO to obtain franchise rights for specific countries. Any corporate group can acquire a franchise license for approximately $1,000 after meeting specific MUO requirements. Franchise holders do not need government clearance as a requirement. Their primary duty is to verify that contestants are citizens of the specified country.
Murtaza Solangi, the interim Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, clarified on social media that the Pakistani government and state are solely represented through their official entities. He emphasized that individuals or groups without the appropriate federal licenses have not received authorization for these actions, and consequently, they should not be considered official representatives of the state. This concern was also brought up by the esteemed religious scholar Mufti Taqi Usmani, who called on the authorities to stay watchful and ensure accountability for those responsible.
Senator Mushtaq Ahmed Khan of Jamat-e-Islami expressed his concerns on platform X, describing the events as a disgrace to Pakistan and an objectification and contempt for Pakistani women. He questioned the identity of the individuals behind Pakistan’s pageantry and who was supporting this scandalous activity. He also inquired whether this is a government-endorsed choice. Furthermore, he called upon the Caretaker Prime Minister to promptly clarify his government’s stance and put an end to the objectification of Pakistani women through beauty pageants.