Pakistan’s interim PM Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, has taken action regarding an unauthorized beauty contest bearing Miss Universe Pakistan” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has been instructed to engage with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government concerning this matter.
The contest in question has been selecting candidates to represent Pakistan in the Miss Universe Pageant, despite not receiving official sanction from the Pakistani government. Prime Minister Kakar had previously tasked the Intelligence Bureau (IB) with investigating the organizers behind this pageant and their use of Pakistan’s identity on a global platform. The IB has now presented its findings to the Prime Minister.
According to the IB’s report, a Dubai-based business group named Yugen Publishing and Marketing has acquired the rights to represent Pakistan in the 2023 Miss Universe contest. They have launched a platform, houseofyugen.com, where they have been accepting applications from Pakistani females aged 24 to 28, regardless of their marital status. This application process commenced on March 4, 2023. Intriguingly, Yugen Group also holds the franchise rights for Miss Universe in Bahrain and Egypt.
Further investigation by the IB revealed that Pakistani participants were chosen through a voting process from a pool of 200 global applicants. One contestant was declared the winner in a ceremony held on September 14, 2023, in Dubai. Josh Yugen was identified as the National Director for Miss Universe Pakistan within the Yugen Group, which is the primary sponsor for the event in Dubai. The Yugen Group has also partnered with the voting application ‘Choicely,’ enabling pageant enthusiasts to cast their votes for their preferred contestants.
The five finalists from Pakistan included Hira Inam (24) from Lahore, Jessica Wilson (28) from Rawalpindi, Malika Alvi (19), a U.S. resident, Sabrina Wasim (26) from Punjab, and Erica Rabin (24) from Karachi. Erica Rabin emerged as the first-ever Miss Universe Pakistan following the conclusion of voting on September 13.
Erica will now represent Pakistan in the global Miss Universe contest, featuring participants from more than 60 nations. The grand finale is scheduled for November 18, 2023, in El Salvador.
The IB’s report also shed light on the nature of national directors within the Miss Universe Organization (MUO). These directors often represent business entities that secure franchise licenses for specific countries from the MUO. Any corporate group that meets MUO prerequisites can obtain a franchise license for approximately $1,000, without requiring government approval. Their primary responsibility is to ensure that contestants hold nationality in the respective country they represent.
In response to these developments, Interim Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Murtaza Solangi, clarified on social media that only official entities represent the Pakistani government and state. He emphasized that no unauthorized individuals or organizations have been licensed by the federal government for such activities and, therefore, should not be considered as representatives of the state.
Religious scholar Mufti Taqi Usmani echoed these sentiments, urging the government to exercise vigilance and hold accountable those responsible for the unsanctioned pageant.
Senator Mushtaq Ahmed Khan of Jamat-e-Islami expressed his concerns, describing the pageant as a disgrace to Pakistan and an exploitation of Pakistani women. He questioned the involvement of governmental decision-makers in this matter and called upon the Caretaker Prime Minister to clarify the government’s stance and halt the objectification of Pakistani women under the guise of beauty contests.