When news broke about the winner of a top beauty pageant in Pakistan, the United Christian Hospital in Lahore had to ban media persons from its premises.
"Dr. Shafaq Akhtar, who is an orthopedic consultant and has been providing services in many clinics in Lahore, has been honoured as the most beautiful Pakistani woman in the world," a Pakistani Daily reported.
Last month, she was crowned 'Miss Pakistan Universal' 2022 in a virtual beauty pageant hosted in Canada. She will now represent Pakistan in the Miss Universe competition in the Philippines in April.
Shafaq joined the United Christian Hospital (UCH) in Lahore as a visiting faculty in May 2021.
A Protestant Christian from Lahore, Shafaq is also proud of her Christian identity. " I thank God [for the opportunity] to represent the Christian community,” she told a Christian website.
Christians in Pakistan have been expressing their happiness.
Dr. Akhtar has become the first medical doctor and the second Christian to win in one of the top beauty pageants of the Islamic republic.
Dr. Shafaq said it was an honour for her to be the beauty queen of 2022. “In the future, I will take part in international competitions and try to make Pakistan famous,” she said.
Shafaq praised her father, a political leader, for inspiring her to become a voice for the community. “I will work for minority rights, helping the needy and charities. I am already giving discounts and offering free treatment to some of my patients,” she said.
Handling Media Frenzy
Since Shafaq won the title, the media frenzy forced the UCH management to ban media persons from the hospital premises. “The patients were getting disturbed,” said administrator Imran Titus.
In September last year, Shafaq started serving mentally and physically disabled women and girls at the Home of Love managed by the Missionaries of Charity in Lahore.
When news of her win spread, the nuns and residents welcomed Shafaq to their home by playing the tambourine amid cheers and claps.
The practicing doctor isn't very keen on switching over to a career in showbiz.
Though she has more than 6,000 Instagram followers, Shafaq said she was “still learning to deal with the media.”
Daughter of the Church
Pastor Anwar Fazal, a well-known Christian televangelist in Pakistan, praised her achievement during his February 20 Sunday service. “She is a daughter of the church. We thank God for all the blessings,” he said.
Roheel Zafar Shahi, secretary-general of the Pakistan Minority Rights Commission, urged community leaders to 'own' the title.
“They should promote young talent even if they are in the entertainment industry. They can be role models as well. Many Christian girls are contacting us since we congratulated the beauty queen on our Facebook page. We shall sponsor the deserving candidates for future pageants,” he said.
Mrs. Pakistan World
In April 2020, Ravish Zahid-Thomas became the first-ever Mrs. Pakistan World from the Catholic community. Born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan, Ravish moved to the USA in 2016 and married her husband, Drew Thomas.
When asked why she participated in the Mrs. Pakistan World beauty pageant, she said, “I wanted to become Mrs. Pakistan World to show the world that Pakistani women are more than just being oppressed, conservative, and uneducated. I wanted to represent my home country Pakistan in all facets and show everyone that Pakistani women can also be cultured, morally strong, beautiful, intelligent, ambitious, and resilient.”
Ravish is also an American Pakistani influencer.
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.