First-ever Miss Universe Pakistan winner Erica Robin prepares to participate in global beauty pageant despite backlashes

Sep 16, 2023 06:38 PM IST

Erica Robin of Karachi, crowned ‘Miss Universe Pakistan’, to represent Pakistan at Miss Universe in El Salvador later this year.

After being named "Miss Universe Pakistan" on Thursday, Erica Robin of Karachi will now represent Pakistan at the international Miss Universe pageant, which will take place in El Salvador later this year. Her success was lauded by many, but it also aroused the wrath of more orthodox forces, who questioned how someone could represent Pakistan in an official capacity without official approval.

First-ever Miss Universe Pakistan Erica Robin gears up for global beauty pageant(Instagram/@missuniversepakistan)
First-ever Miss Universe Pakistan Erica Robin gears up for global beauty pageant(Instagram/@missuniversepakistan)

Taqi Usmani, a religious scholar, was one of the first to express outrage and demand that the government take notice and take action against those in charge of the pageant. Additionally, he insisted that any notion that these women were "representing Pakistan" be refuted. As one of the critics of the movie Joyland when it was released in Pakistan, Jamaat-i-Islami Senator Mushtaq Ahmed Khan tweeted that training for and participating in such pageants was "shameful" for Pakistan. (Also read: Miss Universe pageant eliminates age restrictions for the first time in history. All details inside )

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Similar complaints were made by journalist Ansar Abbasi, who questioned which government official had given the go-ahead for Pakistani women to compete in the contest. Information Minister Murtaza Solangi tweeted in response to his criticism that no one has been formally nominated by the government for such actions. The Foreign Office may have gotten involved in the controversy on Friday, according to media sources, but according to FO spokeswoman Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, no statements have been made on the subject.

However, many individuals found this kind of official inspection of something as trivial as a beauty pageant offensive, and some even criticized the government for fanning the flames of a "non-issue" by adding to the controversy.

Speaking to Dawn, Ms Yusuf, a former chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said that after Malala Yusufzai and Sharmeen Chinoy faced backlash, this young woman is now facing similar attacks. “This attitude is misogynistic and condemnable,” she said. "Attacking Pakistani women who become famous on the world stage has become the norm. Why are women's achievements abroad seen as a blot on the nation's morals?" she added.

In the meantime, Ms. Robin received many well wishes on social media. “Pakistan belongs to all. Every Pakistani can represent Pakistan anywhere, whenever, however,” journalist Mariana Baabar wrote on X (formerly Twitter). Except for those of Pakistani descent, Ms. Robin was aware of the responsibility that came with being the first Pakistani to compete in the Miss Universe pageant. She said it was a tremendous responsibility for her and promised not to do anything that would harm the reputation of the nation in a Friday interview with VOA Urdu. More than winning, she claimed, just being acknowledged as a Pakistani on the international stage was an honour.

The 24-year-old said in the interview that actress and model Vaneeza Ahmed noticed her and urged her to pursue modelling. In addition to congratulating Ms. Robin on her victory, Ms. Ahmed gave her opinion on the Miss Universe Pakistan controversy, telling VOA Urdu that most of the criticism of her accomplishment came from men. Why do the same folks have an issue with a person participating in international competitions and winning titles like "Mister Pakistan"? Ms. Ahmed questioned.

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