Miss Pakistan USA on a mission to change image of Pakistani women

Published: November 26, 2015
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The 26-year-old law student Sarish Khan talks about winning the title and her aspirations.
PHOTO: FILE

The 26-year-old law student Sarish Khan talks about winning the title and her aspirations. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: It takes more than just tiaras, gowns and stilettos to win hearts and Sarish Khan tells us exactly how she does it.

The 26-year-old American beauty of Pakistani origin is the current title holder of Miss Pakistan USA. A student at George Mason Law School in DC, she not only represents the refined class of Pakistani beauties, but also their intellect on a global platform.

But it comes as a surprise to know that this mélange of beauty and brains was a complete stranger to the word ‘pageant’ some time back.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Sarish revealed what inspired her to compete for the title. “I hadn’t watched a pageant in my life until I heard all the chatter about Nina Davuluri, the first Miss America of Indian descent to win the title,” she said.

That led her to think, “if a pre-med student can put India on a global platform then what’s stopping a Pakistani law student from following suit?”

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The desire to place her community’s women in a positive light, transcending the domains of law, entertainment and philanthropy, led her to look for possible options. That’s when she was first introduced to the title of Miss Pakistan USA.

PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Sarish had been an active member of the South Asian community in DC and was aware of the fact that winning the coveted title would bring her more responsibilities. “The moment they announced my name, I knew my world was about to change as my responsibilities would escalate tremendously,” she said.

And that made her stand even taller. “I am not just a beauty queen without a purpose,” said Sarish while sharing, “I aim to bring to light the diversity and adversity in the Pakistani community — particularly for women — in America and across the globe.”

She currently serves as a Women Empowerment Ambassador for a non-profit organisation, Comprehensive Disaster Response Services. Previously, she worked for USAID on an Education Crisis project in Karachi for almost a year that involved some eye-opening experiences in critical areas of Lyari and Korangi.

Sarish’s family and friends were supportive of her decision to participate in the pageant. Although she was met with a few reservations, she managed to convince them through her aims. “I was able to overcome their doubts by representing myself positively during the pageant,” she said.

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Winning the title as a Muslim and a Pakistani in an American society hasn’t limited her abilities as she has received an overwhelming response from people. “I’ve always known that I’m different. I’m Pakistani, I’m American, I’m Muslim, and I’m a woman. With each title, comes its own responsibility,” she said.

“My diversity is the strength to promote equality through each title I hold,” she added.

One wouldn’t doubt Sarish’s talent as she belongs to the family of legendary actors Sabiha Khanum and Santosh Kumar, her maternal grandparents. The pageant winner aspires to follow in their footsteps.

“I didn’t grow up dreaming to be an actor because my mother wanted education to be my primary focus,” said Sarish.

“Now, that I am about to finish law school, I have started taking acting classes here [US] and plan to break into the Pakistani entertainment industry once I gain some experience,” she added.

But that does not mean she will give up on her law career. She believes that even as an actor one “has to deal with entertainment contracts and copyright issues.” She has plans to practice as a litigation attorney.

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Besides her services in the American community, Sarish hopes “to be an agent of change for gender equality in Pakistan.”

She believes that the role of a man, rather than a woman, needs to change in our society. “We live in a world where women aren’t just homemakers, but also breadwinners. It is about time their male counterparts share responsibilities at home as well,” said Sarish.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Frank Mossman
    Nov 26, 2015 - 3:50PM

    A Pakistani American girl with brains as well as beauty! Well done & many congratulations Sarish. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, but to my eyes you beat Nina Davuluri hands down. “I aim to bring to light the diversity and adversity in the Pakistani community — particularly for women — in America and across the globe.” A worthy and noble aspiration. Stay blessed, go places, Amen!Recommend

  • Nov 26, 2015 - 4:41PM

    Nina represented USA at world stage as she was miss America. But where and how miss Pakistan USA is going to make Pakistan proud? And at which international stage? Recommend

  • DesPak
    Nov 26, 2015 - 5:42PM

    My mother, sister and wife HAS better image. Going half nude in public to show off body DOES NOT Pakistan women image better.

    Look at India now, leaving their culture of modesty turning their country as rape capital of the world. Women deserves education and respect in society not to be an item of lustRecommend

  • IBN E ASHFAQUE
    Nov 26, 2015 - 5:46PM

    The muslims of India did not struggle to achieve Pakistan in order to display their daughters as pieces of ornament……Recommend

  • vinsin
    Nov 26, 2015 - 7:08PM

    @DesPak:
    But India is having lowest rape rate in the world. Pakistan rape rate is 4 times that of India with zero conviction rate.Recommend

  • Pakistan
    Nov 26, 2015 - 7:55PM

    Good luck to Sarish Khan. May God bless her lots to happiness and success .I wll always pray for her success. Pakistan girls will take lots of aspirations from a brave young girl like you.Recommend

  • Nov 26, 2015 - 11:16PM

    I want a democratic, tolerant, and a gender equal Pakistani society, but destroying our muslim identity is NOT the way to go. Recommend

  • Naeem Khan
    Nov 26, 2015 - 11:52PM

    Congratulations Sarish Khan, go girl reach for the stars. Recommend

  • Mrs HighBall
    Nov 27, 2015 - 5:17AM

    Lovely, no ? Should make wholesome cheerleader for Pakistan’s cricket team !Recommend

  • musa ali khan
    Nov 27, 2015 - 1:39PM

    Good Luck Sarish go ahead with you dreams Recommend

  • Reg Jilani
    Dec 1, 2015 - 1:33AM

    Good Job Satish Khan. I am proud and delighted that AMERICAN WOMEN OF PAKISTANI ORIGIN are finally going to show the OLD dominant males in this society that 21st. Century belongs to AMERICAN WOMEN OF PAKISTAN ORIGIN.

    Women like you and my wife and daughters have so much talent and nothing to lose but gain from the free society that my country of choice USA provides as long as it this talent and wisdom is channeled in the right direction.

    Good luck to you and all American women of Pakistani origin. Recommend

  • Nisniv
    Dec 23, 2015 - 3:02PM

    @vinsin:
    “But India is having lowest rape rate in the world.” — Citation needed.
    “Pakistan rape rate is 4 times that of India.” — Citation needed.
    “with zero conviction rate.” — Citation needed.Recommend

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