Sehr Mahmood – Miss Pakistan World 2006 by Sheniz Janmohamed

She has high cheekbones and perfectly arched eyebrows that any girl would die for, but Sehr Mahmood is certainly not just a pretty face. An MBA student with a passion for humanitarian causes and extreme sports, it is clear that 26 year old Mahmood has much, much more to offer. Born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, Mahmood spent 18 years of her life respecting and learning about the culture and traditions of her country. She believes that her heritage will always live in her and inform her moral decisions.  After completing her A and O levels, she left for North America to pursue further educational opportunities. She completed first two years of her bachelors at Tufts University in Boston, and then transferred to York University in Toronto, Canada to complete her Specialized Honors degree in Economics.

Sehr was inspired to enter The Miss Pakistan World Pageant because she believed it would provide a voice for Pakistani women, “The Miss Pakistan World company was organizing an event where such a forum was actually present which would give a Pakistani girl the opportunity to emerge as a representative to her community and be an ‘ambassador’ so to speak for the Pakistani nation.”

After winning the Miss Pakistan World title in 2006, Mahmood went on to win an international title in 2006: Miss Queen of the World (Germany)  -Miss Queen of Elegance,  Mahmood has certainly become an ambassador for her community. She even competed in the third largest pageant in the world: Miss Earth 2006, representing her country Pakistan. She believes that she must dispel the negative misconceptions about Pakistan, “My goal here is to educate people and other delegates about my country Pakistan, and to let them know that Pakistan is becoming a very modern country and to remove any misconceptions.”

Mahmood also feels the need to use her title to draw attention to important issues such as women’s rights and the threat of terrorism.  She is acutely aware of the North American tendency to ignore human suffering, “These days we tend to become consumed with business and politics and the real meanings of life are not adhered to enough.  Humanitarism is treated as a non primary issue.” When asked about terrorism, Mahmood responds with careful eloquence, “Well, every Muslim is being singled out, because of extremists and that is the sad thing. We still need to focus on assisting the poor and eliminating poverty but we must also focus on removing terrorism. The analogy of a cup with holes comes to mind: once the holes are patched, only then will pouring water into the cup result in real progress and increased levels.  In this case terrorism is a hole in our society.”

While other women idolize glamorous actresses and celebrities, Mahmood is inspired by the bravery of a rape victim, “Mukhtar Mai, a rape victim in Pakistan, who was gang-raped on the orders of a tribal council in rural Punjab as a punishment for the actions of her brother. She has influenced my personal life in a big way.” Mahmood admires Mai’s courage and perseverance and hopes to face life’s difficulties with Mai’s commendable attitude, “In a country where women’s rights have a long way to go, I find Mai very courageous to have come forward with her devastating rape case. Mukhtar Mai’s courage and leadership will offer a beacon of hope to oppressed women everywhere.”

In addition to her strong views about women’s rights and terrorism, Mahmood also expresses a desire to help improve the environment. In order to qualify for Miss Earth, she had to study the environmental factors affecting Pakistan and develop a small project aimed at bringing down the pollution levels in Pakistan and present it to the panel of judges. The Miss Earth Pageant ensures that its candidates actively promote and get involved in the preservation of the environment and the protection of Mother Earth. Mahmood also supports the International Development and Relief Foundation, “an organization aimed at providing relief assistance to refugees and other victims of man- made chaos such as wars and conflicts, or natural disasters such as floods, typhoons and earthquakes.” Among other initiatives, the IDRF assists in poverty reduction, literacy, and healthcare in order to encourage self-sufficiency.

So what has Sehr Mahmood learned from The Miss Pakistan World Pageant? “Even though every girl could not win the crown, they were all still winners. We explored our hidden talents were encouraged to do things we had never done before – be it dancing, the catwalk or even speaking on a stage in front of millions of people.” Mahmood learned to become more confident and appreciate the uniqueness of the other candidates, adjusting to their needs and personalities.  She also became more responsible, “be it making rehearsals on time, getting out clothes done on time, making sure our choreography was perfect in time for the show and so forth. The Miss Pakistan World pageant is not about victory or defeat – it was a celebration of individualism.  Every contestant should be proud that they showed the courage to be judged by our community as a representative.”

She encourages future contestants to remain true to themselves and to always have a positive attitude, “Work hard and continue to set your own path.  Do what you feel is right and don’t let others deter you from reaching your goal.  Listen to only the voices in your head and block out negativity.  Along the way, remember to show the utmost respect and appreciation for those who have helped you; your teachers, your friends and your family.”

And who is the perfect man for the perfect woman? The bright-eyed Leo smiles shyly, “I like a guy who is decent and has moral values, who looks to a woman for support and treats her as a partner in life.” That can’t be all. “A funny sense of humor along with the 3 C’s: charm, creativity and class.  I like guys that know how to think outside of the box and that are motivated. Most importantly I like guys who show respect for women and their rights and are well mannered. Honestly and faithfulness are also important qualities.”

And so what would a guy like you have to do to impress her? Perhaps plan a day filled with her favourite hobbies: Take her horseback riding followed by a Hollywood movie or renting a Pakistani Drama. Then you’d have to take her to the best Thai restaurant in town and end the night off by gifting her with a book.  Of course, nothing would top taking her bungee jumping or Sky Diving in South Africa (the first time for you, the second time for her). But chances are she’ll be too busy to spend the entire day with you. With an MBA to complete and a title to uphold, Mahmood has her hands full.  Her responsibilities as Miss Pakistan World range from keeping abreast of current world affairs, to walking with the perfect gait, toning her flawless skin to improving her public speaking.  It’s no wonder she has won an international title. She exudes grace and elegance, she’s down to earth and there’s no doubt that one day, she will conquer the world. After all, beauty and brains are a deadly combination.