Miss Pakistan World is a beauty pageant for Pakistan. Till date it is the only original Pakistani beauty pageant that is internationally recognized in the world. The contestants of the Miss Pakistan World pageant are Pakistani girls who reside all over the world, as well as the participation is opened for Pakistani girls from Pakistan, as well as dual nationality holders. Miss Pakistan World has been running since 2002 and has expanded to launching Mrs. Pakistan World as well as Mr. Pakistan World.
Founded in 2002 by Pakistani-Canadian entrepreneur Sonia Ahmed, and in its first year called "Miss Canada Pakistan", the contest is held in Canada because beauty pageants are highly controversial in Pakistan and if it were held there, security for contestants would be too problematic. According to Ahmed, "Pakistan's slow changing movement to liberate its women forbids such events from taking place on its soil." The name of the pageant was changed to Miss Pakistan World, when contestants from around the world started applying for the title. It is the only pageant existing for single Pakistani women in the world. The first Miss Pakistan World to be crowned was Zehra Sheerazi on the 1st of February 2003 in Ottawa, Canada. Sheerazi went on to represent Pakistan in Pakistan's first ever debut in international pageants, World Miss University. The winners went on to represent Pakistan in international pageants as well as the contestants came from diverse backgrounds to participate.
In 2007, Ahmed went on to create Mrs. Pakistan World and in 2011 Mr. Pakistan World all male model competition was launched. Mr. Pakistan World and Miss Pakistan World take place together on stage and both winners are announced together.
In 2014, Sonia Ahmed, President of Miss Pakistan World, shifted the entire pageant and its team to base itself in New Jersey, US for the year 2014. This was the first time the pageant was held out of its home base in Canada. This not only attracted new local contestants from the US but also got more contestants attracted from different parts of the world. In 2015 & 2016 the pageant was back in Toronto, Canada.
Despite being called "Miss Pakistan World" the pageant sends its delegates to the Miss Earth. Naomi Zaman marked Pakistan's debut at the third largest beauty pageant in the world in 2006 but Zehra Sheerazi was the first Miss Pakistan World to enter into an international beauty pageant, World Miss University 2003 in Korea. The first girl of mixed race, Anzhelika Tahir was crowned Miss Pakistan World on the 31st of October, 2015. The pageant also sends its runner ups to international pageants.
The first representative to Miss Earth was Naomi Zaman in 2005 and since then there have been two years where Pakistan did not participate, 2007 & 2013. However, the winner of 2013 Shanzay Hayat represented Pakistan in the Miss Earth 2014 pageant held in Manila, Philippines on November 29, 2014. In 2008 Natasha Paracha, Miss Pakistan World 2008 was replaced by runner up Nosheen Idrees.
The pageant has been criticised by Pakistani feminist Amna Buttar of the Asian-American Network Against Abuse of Human Rights, who wrote in an email to the New York Times:
"In Pakistan, we are trying to get basic rights for women: right to marry, right to divorce, equal opportunity for job and education, and issues like Miss Pakistan create problems for this movement. An average Pakistani young woman does not want to wear a bikini in public, and for her it is important to have equal opportunity and all focus should be on that, and not on a pageant where only the elite can participate."
Sonia Ahmed President of Miss Pakistan World defended the event as a movement to express one's rights and freedom to do as one wishes.
In 2010 the pageant also fell into some controversy when it was held in the month of Ramadan as well as when the floods affected Pakistan 3 weeks prior to the event.
In 2005, one of the runner ups of the Miss Pakistan World pageant, was in the news for participating in an international pageant called, Miss Bikini of the Universe. Most contestants who participated from around the world were highlighted during the pageant as well. At a time when Pervez Musharraf was facing criticism from various political parties in Pakistan, one Miss Pakistan World confessed that she loved the president. During the Mumbai Attacks, Miss Pakistan World winners spoke about the incident and gave statements regarding the India Pakistan tension. During a CNN interview, Miss Pakistan World Natasha Paracha used the word "condone" instead of "condemn" and it rolled on to become a huge controversy which dismayed many Indians.
In 2007 Mrs. Pakistan World, for married women, was created as a spin-off. Both the Miss Pakistan World and the Mrs. Pakistan World pageant were created on the basis of issues faced by women in Pakistan.The pageant is running successfully since 2007.
In 2011 Mr. Pakistan World, for single males of Pakistani descent. The pageant has been running since 2011 and has been incorporated with the Miss Pakistan World pageant on stage.