OPINION by Mathew Carr
March 31, 2023 — LONDON — Karma comes back to bite you on the ass, doesn’t it?
(In Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence is viewed as sealing their fate.
Humza Yousaf, whose family has Pakistani origins, won the Scottish National party’s leadership contest this week. So the UK is now dominated by two men of south-Asian origin.
Rishi Sunak, the UK prime minister, comes from Indian roots.
Yousaf pledged to “re-energise the independence campaign in the best interests of our nation,” pulling it out of the UK. But he hedged on his predecessor Nicola Sturgeon’s promise to frame the next U.K. general election as a de facto referendum on Scottish independence, according to Britannica.
Would a Scottish exit scenario represent karma? The short answer is yes.
In 1947, as India suffered painful unrest between the Hindu majority and Muslin minority, the British decided on a carve out of Pakistan, with the eastern portion later becoming Bangladesh. It was ending 300 years of colonial rule.
Source: Columbia, Oxford universities
Partition was spurred by Muslim independence advocate Muhammad Ali Jinnah, described in the Oxford University document linked immediately above (rather unkindly) as “a secular, whisky-drinking, clean-shaven dandy with a penchant for Savile Row suits who rarely prayed at the mosque.”
He is today “revered in Pakistan as the Quaid-i-Azam [Great Leader], whilst being widely reviled to this day by Indian nationalists as a harbinger of division and violence.”
“Jinnah is often cast as the victor in Partition, achieving his goal of an independent Pakistan, yet he complained bitterly before his death in 1948 that the final settlement was ‘moth-eaten and incomplete’,” the Oxford document says.
Colonial rule over India was largely about violent exploitation and control of trade:
Source: see the BBC link above the snip
Now, the tables have turned.
Britain, seeking to slow its loss of global influence and wealth as middle classes surge in Asia and Africa, needs trading partners. The world’s biggest democracy offers opportunity as it overtakes China as the world’s most populous country.
That’s why post-Brexit Britain has pivoted to the Pacific. It’s still mainly about trade and money.
Yousef needs Sunak’s approval to win any independence, which would probably allow Scotland to rejoin the EU, the biggest trade bloc.
Sunak, losing in polls with an election on the way by January 2025, is not likely to give that easily. His heritage probably means he understands how damaging partition can be.
Still, if the SNP under Yousef boosts its popularity and wins a mandate, it’ll be difficult for any Westminster leader to resist the will of the Scottish people.
And India is probably not going to cut the UK any slack in continuing trade talks. It’s now got most of the leverage.
The past catches up, indeed.