Post Scotland Referendum Freedom Movements

United Kingdom, like its historical contribution in the socio-political development of its previous colonies in Asia, Africa, Australia, and North America, has recently proved to be a leading trend setter by holding historical referendum in Scotland to seek their will for either union or secession.  

Such a noble act was previously carried out by Canada that gave Quebec an opportunity to express their will in 1980 and later on again in 1995. Recently Spain has carried referendum in the federating state of Catalonia, in which unlike Quebec and Scotland, Catalonia voted 81 percent in the favor of secession. Whether the will of Catalonian would be materialized or they would engage with the Spain for more autonomy and benefits? Ultimately in both of the situations Catalonian people will be the beneficiaries.

In brief, the bold and highly democratic action by the UK has ultimately left impacts on the federating countries around the world, where ethnic-nationalism has acquired highly legitimate space as well as strength.

Federations in the crises
Many of the federations in the world are historical, some are not only very recent but also have developed on the illegitimate foundations, therefore have caused ethnic monopolies of dominant ethnic –nations and federating states over the rest.

Some highly recognized freedom movements among the federating countries in the world are still yearning for the materialization of their collective will. Some federations have already resolved the issues of secessionist movements either completely or to greater extent that include a typical example of Corsica in France, which is now a cohesive part of the French federation. It also include the example of Chechnya, where freedom movement was in booms during last decades; however under President Putin the Chechnya has pressed for the integration within the federation. Another example is of Kashmir, which due to policies of Nehru is a part of India and enjoys greater autonomy. Hence if infiltration of non-Kashmiri Jihadist ends from outside, there would be no significant secessionism there and violence would finally recede.

Existing secessionist movements
There are some prominent legitimate secessionist or freedom movements in Asia that include Tibet in China, Kurdistan in Iraq and Turkey, Sindh and Balochistan in Pakistan. Among these, Tibet is an entirely different case in which unlike India’s autonomy giving space to Kashmir, successor Chinese leadership particularly Deng Xiao Peng snatched agreed autonomy from Tibetan that Dalai Lama and Mao Zedong reached upon by the mid of the last century. Kurdistan in Turkey is undergoing the reformist process in which Turkey due to pressure from USA and EU is trying to recognize legitimate rights of Kurds and is also attempting to give them more agency. Kurdistan in Iraq is almost autonomous now and have a semi-freedom status; however it seems that they would win freedom in the post ISIS phenomena. Sindh and Balochistan were annexed with a non-historical federation of Pakistan against their will in 1947. The foundation of Hindu and Muslim nations on which Pakistan was created out of India proved failure in 1971 when Pakistani federating state East Bengal became Bangladesh on the ethnic-nation lines.

Where referendum is meaningless
Pakistan is country where democracy has not got an entry as yet. Half life of Pakistan’s sixty-seven years has remained under military rule. Rest of half has witnessed election frauds. The provincial assemblies of Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa are not free to run their business as their business is monitored by the military related intelligence agencies that usually check the agenda of these assemblies before their legislative sessions. Besides, because Sindh and Balochistan were annexed with Pakistan unwillingly and Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa (KP) became part of Pakistan on the basis of Britain’s lease of KP according to Durand Line agreement, referendum for the Sindh and Balochistan by Pakistan would be an inappropriate instrument. Nor the provincial assemblies in Pakistan are autonomous enough to pass the resolution for secession from the federations. In a very recent move, Provincial Assembly Sindh has passed a resolution on December 10, 2014 demanding Federation of Pakistan to practically materialize the provincial autonomy given through XVIII constitutional amendment five years ago or be ready for the dismantling of the Federation. 

What then?
In such situations, the role of international community and the United Nations (UN) become pivotal. Either the referendum in these provinces should be carried by UN or international community should think of other means in this regards. The role and historical responsibility of the UK in this regards becomes of importance.
Besides, UN itself needs to legislate regarding the secession or freedom movements in the federations around the world.   


Published in Daily Afghanistan Times, Kabul on December 13, 2014