Dr. Shafaq Akhtar – The new face for Pakistan’s Representation in Pageants
In 2022, Lahore’s city was buzzing with beauty queens as more titles were introduced by Sonia Ahmed, the founder of Pakistan’s Pageant Industry. The pageant industry was founded out of Pakistan from 2002-2019 and then during Covid-19, the Miss Pakistan Pageants were moved to Lahore, Pakistan. In 2022, new titles were introduced to accommodate more international representation of Pakistan. Miss Pakistan Universal, Miss Pakistan Global, Miss Pakistan Supreme and Miss Pakistan National were a few titles to name. Mrs. Pakistan and Mr. Pakistan titles were also awarded to the contestants in Lahore in 2022.
Dr. Shafaq Akhtar the newly crowned Miss Pakistan Universal was the first Christian girl to be crowned Miss Pakistan Universal 2022 and was the first doctor. Without being affiliated with the modelling world, Dr. Shafaq started concentrating on representing Pakistan on international platforms. A patriot, she made waves in the pageant industry by participating in Miss Aura International, Miss Planet and currently Miss Elite. She brought back the first winning titles to Pakistan. She won Miss Rixos Sungate in Miss Aura International in Turkey, and Miss Humanity in Miss Planet in Cambodia. Two winning titles were brought back to Pakistan.
When asked as to why pageantry interested her, she said, “I always saw many countries represented in pageants, and I really wanted to represent Pakistan and when I spoke to the President of Miss Pakistan, Sonia Ahmed, she told me that one does not have to be a model and that its open to all girls of all ages.
That motivated me and I participated and hence today I have three titles to my name and two extra winning titles for Pakistan. Pageants are about representation, making friends worldwide and travelling to different countries and enjoying the experience! I had a blast in Turkey, Cambodia and soon I will be off to the Land of the Open Museum – Egypt. I would have never thought to have visited these places in my lifetime, but I have seen so much in such little time. Plus, I have friends from all around the world.”
Every international pageant has a theme, and we must start learning about different subjects as per the theme of the pageant. When I represented Pakistan in Miss Planet 2023 in January, I had to study about our planet, and focus on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 those goals are met. All this was new to me as a doctor, as I was always in my bubble of my world of doctors, and becoming Miss Pakistan, gave me that opportunity to learn about new things. From charitable work to learning about our planet, as well as tourism of Pakistan, the Miss Pakistan journey has been full of excitement, educating myself and making friends around the globe!”
Sonia Ahmed, Founder of Miss Pakistan and the pageant industry of Pakistan, added, “People always mistake pageantry to be a part of the modeling industry, and that is not true. We don’t have designers working for us or clothes that we have to get models for! We are like the Olympics but in a subtle way where representation of one’s country is a must. Miss Pakistan is an honor received, an accolade for any woman at any age, as well as it’s a title that opens the doors for many women to travel and know other like-minded women from all around the world. It’s a sisterhood that we enjoy and strive to achieve, and the best thing is that we are in Pakistan, the hub of the most beautiful women in the world, where women of all walks of lives can unite for one purpose and that is to keep the spirit of Pakistan alive through their valuable representation.”