Miss Pakistan World 2007, Mahleej Sarkari travels to China to compete in the 4th largest beauty pageant in the world, Miss Tourism Queen International. Her travels come with mixed support from a struggling Pakistan, but with the hope of breaking down stereotypes.
In Zhengzhou City, China, 128 young ladies from around the globe are representing their country at the 4th largest International beauty pageant in the world – Miss Tourism Queen International. The pageant, which is in its 59th year, aims to promote tourism while celebrating entertainment and fashion from around the world. The 3 week long event will bring ambassadors from across the world together for a lesson in cultural unification and diplomacy.
Miss Pakistan World, Mahleej Sarkari is one who deems this experience especially sacred. Born in Karachi, Pakistan, Sarkari currently resides in Toronto where she studied business and now owns her own spa business. Six years ago, a young girl from Pakistan would have never thought it possible to become a beauty queen. The pageant industry is still forbidden in her homeland, however great strides have been made in the Western world to give Pakistan a voice on the international stage.
Crowning 6 winners since 2002, Miss Pakistan World founder, Sonia Ahmed says that the direction her organization is moving shows a higher potential than she had hoped for. Ahmed says, “On a local level, we have begun to gain great support throughout the community and media. We are showing people that young women from Pakistan deserve a voice and can do great things when given the chance. On an international level, we have far surpassed our goals bringing home 6 international titles within the past 6 years. The international community is supporting us, and seeing the potential our new generation has to make a difference.” Although some fundamentalists throughout Pakistan still see this pageant as a cultural paradox on the value system they so strongly hold, it is difficult to deny the desire that the emerging generation of Pakistan have for greater equality and understanding from the rest of the world.
With the political climate of today’s Pakistan, Sarkari stands with over 120 nations in China and the turmoil seems to fade for a moment. The results of the pageant will not be revealed for another few weeks, but the greatest outcome will remain – a chance for the countries of the world to come together for 3 weeks to celebrate their own culture and more importantly, applaud one another’s.
A new Miss Pakistan World will be crowned on May 23rd, 2008 at the Versailles Convention Center in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.