1. How does it feel winning Miss Pakistan World?
Winning Miss Pakistan World has already turned out to be an amazing experience, as new as it is. The runners up were beautiful, intelligent women, and honestly, I believe it was by a hair that I won. I am truly blessed to be given this opportunity to represent strong, independent, intelligent Pakistani women on a global level, and be the role model that Pakistani women need. I am so excited about the upcoming year, and hope to represent the past and future generations of Pakistani people worldwide exceedingly well.
2. Tell us a bit about yourself.
My family has lived and flourished in the culturally rich Lahore, Pakistan for 700 years. In 1971, my family migrated to the States, where I was born. We frequently take trips back home to visit Pakistan, and they are never long enough. Currently residing in the Washington, DC area, I run a successful business of makeup artists called Limelight Beauty Artistes, focusing on weddings and the fashion industry. My English Studies background has fueled my beauty columns in magazines such as Sapna Magazine, and Divanee Magazine. I’ve also come out from behind the scenes and started modeling myself. I love what I do because I adore meeting new people every day. Each day brings new personalities, new stories.
3. What is your educational background?
I am currently studying at the George Mason University, majoring in English Studies, with a minor in Business Administration. I have also trained with celebrity makeup artist Debra Macki, have taken and continue to take makeup artistry classes to expand upon my expertise.
In between my schooling, I have worked for the Washington Redskins (a National Football League franchise) Charitable Foundation, organizing events to benefit the less fortunate, and working with high profile clients to keep the Foundation running successfully. Previously, I was employed at a certified government contracting agency as Proposal Assistant and Editor. It was a big step to leave a stable day job to pursue my then part time makeup artistry business as a full time endeavor, but I have never looked back since, and am blessed to be able to do what I love as a career.
4. What interested you in taking part in Miss Pakistan World?
Ever since I was a little girl, people have always told me I don’t look Pakistani, and I don’t act Pakistani. How does one “act” Pakistani? Apparently, people expect Pakistani women to be quiet, introverted, shy, oppressed women. Au contraire! I have always been a confident, outspoken female standing up for her beliefs. Pakistani women do look like me, do “act” like me, I thought. And now is my chance to educate the world on exactly how driven and headstrong we are. As a child, my role model was my older sister. She spoke up for herself always; she was beautiful; she was highly intellectual. She was the complete package. I have two young nieces now who I only hope to be a role model for. There are millions of young Pakistani girls worldwide who need the same guidance. I can only hope to be just that.
I also aim to use this platform for yet another purpose. With several cases of disabled children right here in my own extended family, my Achilles heel is the less fortunate. Be it children suffering from Down’s Syndrome, or those displaced from their homes in Swat Valley, I will do everything I can to aid in their relief.
5. How has your family reacted to your being crowned?
My family has been rooting for me to win from the get go. They claimed they “knew” I would win all along, and were so proud of me when I won. They literally jumped for joy and cried tears of happiness. It’s funny and embarrassing at the same time that they introduce me to everyone we know as Miss Pakistan World, but I cherish the love and support they have always given me.
6. Do you have family in Lahore, Pakistan; if so, how have they reacted?
Much of my family resides in Lahore. Pakistan is still fairly new in the field of pageantry and some understand and some don’t. I am not ashamed of who I am, what I wear, what I speak, so I see no reason for being a hypocrite and preaching one thing yet doing another. I am a spiritual person at heart, but I firmly believe it is God and only God who can judge me.
7. What are your plans besides the company plans for your current year?
Aside from the many exciting duties the Miss Pakistan World title will bring my way this year, I remain involved in many activities. I continue to study at my university, as well as staying actively involved in the fashion industry in Washington, DC. As a member of the Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce, I work with fellow “profashionals” to further the DC fashion industry and bring it up to par with its New York and Paris counterparts. Also keeping me inundated is running my business, which I eat, sleep and breathe. I aim to open a premier independent institution dedicated to providing Limelight’s services within the next two years. I also dedicate my time to modeling, writing my beauty column “Steal the Limelight,” and, winding down with friends and family, which includes my two cats, Tony Montana and Mr. Meowgi, and two doves named Heer and Ranjha.
8. After your tough experience in Toronto for almost 10 days, has anything changed you as a person?
Indeed, out of every difficult experience emerges a stronger person. After six months of intense studying, working out, and other preparations, women from all over the world convened for a common goal, to become the next Miss Pakistan World. Ten days of hard work, essay writing, pop quizzes, working out, photo shoots, minimal sleep, hardly any time to eat, all while looking picture perfect will discipline any person. I pushed myself to the limit and beyond, and realized I am much stronger and more capable than I ever imagined. On the day of the pageant, while doing my makeup, I all of a sudden was hit as though with a ton of bricks with a high fever. My head started spinning, my voice started to change due to congestion, I was sneezing up a storm, and my eyelids became heavy with exhaustion. I said to myself, I’ll be darned if I let my body get the best of me on a day like today, downed some over the counter medications, had an energy drink, and focused on the bigger picture. Ten minutes later I was good as new and a few hours later, I was donning the crown and sash. As taught to us by successful image consultant and motivational speaker, Nyla Hasan, it’s ultimately mind over matter. If you put your heart into anything, you can achieve it. As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you are right.”
9. What’s your advice to the people who have misconceptions about Pakistan in beauty pageants?
Our great nation, the land of purity, or Pakistan, was formed by Muhammad Ali Jinnah on the principles of Islam. What people often misconstrue is that Islam, and Jinnah spoke of this often in his addresses to the people, preaches acceptance of all creeds and equality for all. All types of people live in Pakistan, different religions, races, and schools of thought. While there are people who may be opposed to Pakistan’s involvement in beauty pageants, there are those with more open minds who support the advancement of Pakistan, and her involvement in the world’s arenas. People must learn to be civil and agree to disagree, respecting each other’s opinions. This lesson is one that can be applied to all humanity; live and let live, as preached by Jinnah himself.