Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf faces daily pressure from pro-democracy activists and the country's lawyers' movement to step down, but he's apparently garnered worldwide support and admiration from the beauty queen contingent, according to the reigning Miss Pakistan World.
Mahleej Sarkari, the current Miss Pakistan, caused a stir when she announced she would love to date the former military dictator and called the 64-year-old mustashioed leader a "hunk."
"A little note to the people of Pakistan," Sarkari wrote in a message posted briefly on her Web site, according to local news reports. "Going to international pageants we have found out how much Musharraf is known to all beautiful young girls, the beauty queens."
"Some have replied, 'Oh yes, the general man!,'" wrote Sarkari, adding, "He has enough charisma to have young girls going nuts."
The statements were widely reported in Pakistani newspapers but no longer appear on the site.
Rendezvous in Australia?
Sarkari, a 24-year-old Karachi native who now resides in Toronto, told a radio interviewer she would take him to Australia if he asked her out.
In a Muslim nation where many women don't venture out of their homes without a veil, Sarkari lists bellydancing as a favorite hobby on her Web site, which is plastered with photos of her in revealing dress.
The Miss Pakistan World Web site has posted pictures of Sarkari and other beauty contestants blowing kisses to a photograph of Musharraf.
She calls the Pakistani president, who is married with two grown children, the politician she admires most in Pakistan.
Musharraf's spokesman said the president hadn't seen the beauty queen's Web site, but added that "millions" of young Pakistanis admired their leader.
"Lucky him," added Gen. Rashid Quereshi, that one of them is Mahleej Sarkari.