Humza Yousaf of Pakistan lineage to lead Scotland - GulfToday

Humza Yousaf of Pakistan lineage to lead Scotland

Humza Yousaf

Humza Yousaf

Humza Yousaf winning the leadership stakes of Scotland National Party (SNP), and consequently the First Minister of Scotland, has much to commend. There are the obvious ones. He is the first coloured person as well as South Asian to head the SNP and to head Scotland with devolved status, a separate parliament and a separate executive. Yousaf also becomes the first Muslim to head a government in Europe. And quite significantly the first Muslim of Pakistani origin. Sadiq Khan had been a mayor London, the first for a Muslim of Pakistani origin. In a rare coincidence, migrants from south Asia, Rishi Sunak, Leo Varadkar, and Yousaf head the British, Irish and Scottish governments. There is of course the sweet irony that Great Britain once ruled over India except Goa, the place of origin of Varadkar, which was ruled by Portugal. Both Yousaf and Sunak’s ancestors come from Punjab which is now in Pakistan. Interestingly, there is the common Kenya link for both Sunak and Yousaf. Sunak’s parents migrated from Kenya to Britain, and in the case of Yousaf, it his mother’s family that migrated from Kenya to Scotland.

Yousaf has boldly acknowledged his migrant origins, and he had fulsome praise for migrants and their contribution to Scotland. But he also said that it was Scotland that shaped him as a person, his values and his politics. What seems to have won Yousaf his political spurs was that he did not try to hide his migrant origins, and when questions came up about Muslims and the West in the wake of 9/11 terror attacks in New York and Washington, he stood up and took the questions on the chin. He had also opposed the invasion of Iraq by the United States, Great Britain and others to replace Saddam Hussein. His politics has been described as the “politics of conviction”. As a migrant in Scotland, Yousaf is dedicated to Scotland, and that makes it amply clear to migrants as to what they should be doing, to serve the land they have migrated to. He has also told the SNP convention that chose him the leader that migrants are needed, this at a time when, especially in neighbouring Britain, tough anti-migration laws are being brought into force.

It is interesting that the baton in Scotland has passed on to the younger generation. All the three contestants for the SNP leadership are in their thirties – Yousaf, 37, Kate Forbes, while the third, Ash Regan is 49. Yousaf’s political journey has been a tough trek, including his stint as health secretary and his handling of the National Health Service (NHS) in Scotland during the corona epidemic. He has proved his mettle.

Yousaf has promised Scottish independence at a time when the Scots themselves seem to have lost interest. It is indeed a tough proposition. But Yousaf offered no definite timeline. He said that Scottish independence should be realizable in five years. This is not an empty promise. Yousaf believes that Scottish independence becomes once the critical mass in its support is reached. And this is not based on mere sentiment. Scottish independence is important for Scotland because Scotland wants to remain in the European Union (EU) unlike Britain. So, the parting of ways becomes inevitable. And as Yousaf rightly anticipates, it is a matter of time. Yousaf has other challenges on hand like the economic crisis arising from the rising cost of living in the wake of the corona epidemic. And Yousaf has adopted a pragmatic approach of solving problems and taking as many people as he can with him. One of the things that Yousaf has established from himself is that he is a Scotsman and his politics is Scottish.

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