England & Scotland — better together

Published: September 16, 2014
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The writer teaches history at Forman Christian College Lahore and tweets at 
@BangashYK

The writer teaches history at Forman Christian College Lahore and tweets at @BangashYK

On September 18, 2014 a historic event will take place in Scotland. On that day, nearly four million Scots will take part in a referendum to decide the future of the country. The simple, yet significant, question asked will be: should Scotland be an independent country? If the Scots say yes, then the Acts of Union of 1706 and 1707 which joined the kingdoms of Scotland and England (the Crowns of England and Scotland had already been joined since the accession of James the VI of Scotland and first of England in 1603) will be undone. Either way, history will be made on September 18.

I have three reasons for writing this article. First, it seems that we in Pakistan are so embroiled in our own affairs that we have stopped caring about what is happening in the world around us. The Scottish referendum, which has dominated world headlines lately, has only received peripheral mention in Pakistan. In the globalised world, it is not good for a country to be so oblivious of the world around us.

Secondly, I want to use this platform to urge Scots of Pakistani descent to vote ‘No’. Pakistan’s ties to Scotland are very strong. The current Governor of Punjab, Chaudhary Mohammad Sarwar, lived in Scotland most of his life, and represented the Glasgow Gowan constituency for decades in Westminster. Pakistani Scots, in Glasgow and elsewhere, have contributed significantly to the development of Scotland for decades and have a stake in the future of Scotland. The Union of Scotland and England and Wales has been one of the most successful unions in the world. In fact, the ‘Great’ in Great Britain began only after the union took place and it was then that Britain became the world power which ‘ruled the seas’ for centuries. Working together the nations were able to not only transform their own countries for the better, but also became the harbingers of modernity in most of the world. Of course, the empire had its bad points, but the positives of the British Empire were enhanced by the involvement of the Scots, who especially endeared themselves to the northwest of India — presently the Khyber- Pakhtunkhawa province — and called it home. Who in the Frontier Region can forget the inimitable Sir George Cunningham — the Scot Pakhtun — who was so loved by the fierce tribesmen that the Quaid-e-Azam requested him to come out of retirement to become the first governor of the NWFP in independent Pakistan.

Thirdly, the Scottish referendum will have implications for the rest of the world. A number of countries in the world — Pakistan included — have secessionist movements, and the peaceful referendum on the future of Scotland will have an effect on those movements. If a union can be brought to an end after centuries of successful partnership, then why can other regions vying for independence not have the same option? The question here is really of self-determination, and if it can be peacefully applied in Scotland then why not in Catalonia and the Basque region of Spain, or Corsica in France, or, Balochistan in Pakistan? As the ‘Yes’ campaign has argued, independence will not mean a complete break from England, and at least Scotland will hope for a currency union, participation in the European Union and Nato, among other things. In a globalised world, the creation of a new small nation which then wants to reintegrate itself into a larger economic and military union (the EU and Nato respectively) does seem counter-intuitive (since it only sounds like notional independence which will actually harm the new country in the long run), but its advocacy by a significant number of people does make it something for us all to consider. The independence of Scotland will certainly have implications for the world and might destabilise several countries, especially since most secessionist movements do not take a peaceful route.

The Scots will exercise their right of self-determination on September 18, let us hope they make the right choice and show the world that unions can also work as better, if not much better, than small independent countries. Vote ‘No’ Scotland!

Published in The Express Tribune, September 16th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Sun Tzu
    Sep 16, 2014 - 1:20AM

    How come someone who represented a constituency in Glasgow now is the Governor or Panjab? Where does his loyalty lie? Looks like he’s managed to butter both sides of his bread!

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  • Indian
    Sep 16, 2014 - 5:13AM

    Bangash saheb,
    You are a gentleman scholar. Your concern for world peace is understandable.But as they say what goes around comes around.

    The British bribed brothers to stab their own brothers in the back all over the world to enslave half of the world to create the British empire. What Napoleon and Hitler wanted to achieve, the British achieved through treachery and cunning. They swindled so much wealth and impoverished the countries which are still trying to recover.

    Having said that the most likely outcome is a no vote.

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  • sidjeen
    Sep 16, 2014 - 11:08AM

    i have no interest in whether Scotland votes yes or no apart from the fact that it teaches us a lesson as to how civilized nations conduct their affairs through popular consent even something as bitter as secession.

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  • Kamran Khan
    Sep 16, 2014 - 1:52PM

    How came you write about the feelings of others by not being part of them. Majority of Scotts hate English, let them decide their own fate.

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  • oBSERVER
    Sep 16, 2014 - 3:23PM

    The writer needs to kick himself for cruelly and foolishly ignoring what important change is taking place in his own Country. Has this anything to do with his employers or does he need to see a neurologist.That is the question.

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  • Learn from Scotland
    Sep 16, 2014 - 3:27PM

    If Scotland can have a vote for independence so should Sindh. We have had to face massive impositions on our land not of our choosing.

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  • Naresh
    Sep 16, 2014 - 5:21PM

    If Pakistan can separated from India and Bangladesh separated itself from Pakistan, Bosnia separated itself from Serbia, the US and its henchmen broke up Yugoslavia then why should Scotland be told not to separate itself from the United Kingdom?
    .
    Cheers

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  • Parvez
    Sep 16, 2014 - 11:33PM

    It really matter not if the stay together or not….because either way they will both prosper because they are mature democratic entities in the true sense.

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  • SBK-1709
    Sep 17, 2014 - 7:44PM

    I think it is the successful offshore oil drilling rigs have given a new fillip to the mood of separating Scotland device UK. Scots hate it when Brits call this oil as British Oil and immediately correct them saying it is Scottish Oil.
    In short, oil is the root cause of the problem of Scots trying to split from UK. Oil has been the root cause of many wars in the world in the last 200-odd years ever since the utility of oil was well-established.
    Anyway, let the Scots decide!

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  • Hassan
    Sep 18, 2014 - 3:38AM

    I guess what matters is if an entity is able to look after its own state, remaining part of EU and NATO will be huge achievement towards scotts. Although, i’m not a pessimist yet as far as i guess, referendum will receive success and people are going to vote ‘yes’ as they don’t they carry good thoughts about English people. Hope whatever result may come out must be honored and accept better in Scotts fate.

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