Monthly Archives: April 2013

The wee First Minister of Pollokshields, Makki Ahmed Tahir’s thoughts on Independence

I would like to discuss the topic of independence. If Scotland were to become independent we would not have to worry about money, SNP Annual Conference continues amidst controversy over NATOas we have firm foundations one of our biggest assets is the north sea oil & gas which is worth approximately £1 trillion and it is a safety net for the next 40 years and if we invest and save the revenue wisely we will build up a fund that will protect us for many decades to come.

Many people think Scotland’s spending is higher than anywhere else in the U.K but they fail to look at the statistics, we get approximately 9.3% of U.K spending but we also approximately make 9.6% of U.K taxes.  We make over £1,000 more tax per person than the average across the U.K.

Over each of the last six years Scotland’s finances have been stronger than the U.K and over the last 30 years we have had a relative surplus of £19 billion. Some people worry that an independent
Scotland’s debt is too much but figures released in January 2012 by city firm M&G investments show that Scotland’s debt is only 56% but the UK’s is a shocking 63% and the report said “Scotland’s starting point is better”. But oil and gas are not are only guarantees for the future. Scotland has 25% of the EU’s offshore tidal and wind energy produce, which will be worth billions every year. for our size, we have the strongest university research base in the world. We have key and growing industries including tourism, food and drink (including Irn Bru), the financial sector, engineering and life-sciences.

There are also benefits of being independent we will not have to live in England’s shadows and the people who actually live in Scotland can make decisions about their  country’s future and not leave it  down to people who do not live in Scotland and in actual fact the live in England that is not fair because we are Scottish we live in Scotland but we do not make our own decisions that is outrageous plus we did not even elect that government yet they make decisions that make an
impact on our families.  Well if Scotland was independent we could choose a government fit to run our great country and if we were to be independent we could reverse some decisions that the UK government made like the tax cut for the wealthiest in society and restore it to a higher level of tax allowance for pensioners. mat1

Being independent would mean we could benefit from our vast offshore renewable energy. We can attract businesses to Scotland and businesses already here to grow, allowing us to create more jobs. While the U.K government waste £100 billion on destructive nuclear weapons we can use our £8 billion to better our country. Being independent means a lot of different things for everybody but this being independent means to change Scotland’s destiny and make it the country we all know it
can be the choice is yours vote YES! YES! YES!

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A lesson in Independence – Munawar Yousaf

I am now in my sixties, but I was just a young lad of 12 when I came to Scotland from a small town near the city of Multan in Pakistan. Munawar_Yousaf_1Obviously it was a huge change of culture and environment, but the local kids were very friendly, and it didn’t take long for me to settle in to life in Glasgow.

My mother had high aspirations for all her children and she was constantly urging us to do our best.

I took on at an early age the idea that if something is worth doing you should do it well and in doing so raise the benchmark for yourself and for others. I think her  influence was key in my decision to  become a civil engineer, then 28 years ago when I was made redundant to join forces with my younger brother and set up our accountancy firm Yousaf and Co.

But there were other important guides in my life at that time, and one in particular I shall never forget. My Maths teacher at Bellahouston Academy, was an Englishman who had moved north of the border to teach. He believed passionately that Scotland should be an independent country, and that passion transferred to me, and many of his pupils.

Looking to inequalities in other parts of the world, he believed that if resources such as tea, coffee, iron, gold and diamonds were processed in the countries of production, those nations would not still be classed as third world countries.  And he felt very strongly that the people of Scotland were being denied control of their own natural resources such as its oil fields, fishing and shipbuilding industries.

In discussing this unfairness and disadvantage with his pupils, he allowed us to develop a much larger world picuture than the view we received from our sanitised history books.

Being a Scottish independence supporter from Pakistan wasn’t exactly common back then. Most people of the Pakistani community living in Scotland at that time were staunch Labour supporters. But my sibilings and I saw that someone born and bred in England, like my maths teacher, could consider himself Scottish, and we asked ourselves why can’t a Pakistani born person who lives in Scotland consider himself Scottish too? My support for an independent Scotland has never wavered since that time.

I’ve always felt there is an imbalance in the way Scotland has been treated by successive Westminster Governments. In the 1970s I saw the steel making factories moved from Central Scotland to Sheffield, the car manufacturers shut in Linwood, coal factories closed and the ship building industries decimated. Then in the 1980s, the effect of the Thatcher years, where Scotland witnessed some of the worst unemployment this country has seen, are being felt even today.

I have now lived in Scotland for 48 years, this is my home and where my loyalties lie. I want decisions that affect my children, and future grandchildren, to be made by them and the rest of the people of Scotland, not some distant Government they cannot relate to.

I look to countries such as many of those in Scandinavia with small populations and see how well they’ve done since becoming independent.  Being a small country actually gives us specific advantages over our larger neighbour.

A smaller population means developing services and putting beneficial ideas into practice will be, in many ways, much more manageable.  In an independent Scotland we will be able to roll out services quickly ensuring the people who need them the most getting priority.

The advantages of being able to make our own decisions on every level, is the greatest benefit for an independent Scotland.  A country run by the people of Scotland for the people of Scotland. It’s time.

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The only way forward is an Independent Scotland – Nighet Riaz


When I started to write about my cultural identity in terms of an independent Scotland, I was initially flummoxed as I have a plethoraP7b of identities rolled into one. Along with being female and having multiple roles as a daughter, sister, wife, mother and mother in law, I strongly identify with being a Scottish Muslim. I am also a student, researcher, teacher, activist and a firm believer in an independent Scotland.

My parents migrated from Pakistan in the mid – 1960s to Birmingham where I was born.  At 19 my marriage was arranged and I moved to Saltcoats to begin my married life.

I fell in love with Scotland. The pleasure I would get waking up in the morning and starting my day by feasting my eyes on the vista of the Isle of Arran off the coast. Until moving to Ayrshire I had never visited the sea and each day the view would be different as the ambience would change according to the sun rising, setting, cloudy or sunny. It was breath-taking from every angle.

Having now lived in Scotland for nearly 27 years, I have 3 children, all in their 20s, and a daughter in law who all have a strong affinity for their homeland which they identify as Scotland.

I have lived in Elgin with access to the most glorious beaches at Findhorn, Roseisle and Cullen. It was the most wonderful place for my children to grow up and the warmth of the local community was second to none. I wept copious tears when we had to move to Inverness for business purposes but soon cheered up when living in the picturesque Milton of Leys. We now live in Glasgow which is a much more cosmopolitan, culturally richer and diverse.

Whilst in Elgin, I decided to go back to college when the children started school and the learning bug has never left me. I put it down to the first class further and higher education system in Scotland and the inspirational staff who have believed in me. I am currently in the throes of a PhD exploring the concepts of identity with ethnicity and religion and how young people interpret the communities around them.

My informal observations have led me to believe strongly that independence is the best option for Scotland. We must have yp2responsibility for all areas of policy such as fiscal, welfare and defence, if we are to eradicate poverty, further improve housing and design welfare programmes run by organisations with ethical and moral values, rather than just the profit margin in sight.

As Nelson Mandela said: “Poverty is not an accident.  Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.”

The advantages for Scotland as an independent nation are many. Tory and Labour politicians in Westminster are making vague promises about “allowing” us more powers after the referendum, but have so far given no clear answers about what those might be.

That’s not what I want for my country’s future. Decisions about Scotland should be made by the people who live here and care most about this country. That’s why I’ll be saying Yes to an independent Scotland. Without a shadow of a doubt, we are ready.



Nighet Nasim Riaz is a PhD Researcher and Associate Lecturer at University of West Scotland

An active member of Women for Independence @womenforindy, Scots Asians for Independence @safi4yes, YesGovan and YesPollokshields

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Tahir Mohammed shares his views – A prosperous Scotland

I believe that Scotland is in a stronger financial position than the rest of the UK by £1000 for each Scottish household. That’s because IMG-20121018-00189we generate 9.6% of UK taxes but receive just 9.3% of UK spending. This will give us firm financial foundations as an independent country.

There is no tuition fee, no prescription charges, Small Business Bonuses, free elderly care and much more and still Scottish Economy is better compare to the rest of the UK Economy.

Scotland has vast resources and once we are independent we will be able to use our vast resources.  We will invest to build a more successful economy and this will allow us to create more jobs and improve the quality of life for people across Scotland.

After independence we will invest in better NHS, Welfare, Education, childcare, pensions or more opportunities for young Scots instead of billions of pounds in illegal wars and weapon of mass destructions.

Tahir Mohammed is a Qualifications Officer at Scottish Qualifications Authority

An active member of Scots Asians for Independence @safi4yes and YesPollokshields

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Role models in our Scottish Asian Communities – The Late Bashir Ahmad, MSP

I never had the privilege of meeting Mr Ahmad, but with everyone I talked to, it is clear to see he left his mark, as they all remember him with a fondness and respect very few of us are able to gain in this lifetime. BA1

From those conversations I have walked away the richer for knowing that we had such inspirational members within our communities who did so much for us and the wider community.  Bashir sahib showed us that it can be done, and many more of us should be taking part and being responsible through every strata of the community, on a local, national and global level.

Bashir Ahmad lead the bill on making forced marriages a criminal offence in Scotland. He received praise for his humanitarian campaign for Scottish hospitals to treat the most serious casualties of Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip, particularly women and children with life-threatening burns or other wounds.

He also lead and campaigned on:

He left us with an incredible legacy. Let us play our part in helping create a Scotland he would have been proud off!

Nighet Riaz

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Irfan Rabbani shares his views on the importance of self determination

Irfan Rabbani, is a former Glasgow City Councillor and is Chair of The Hidden Gardens. He also doubles as a football coach with Glasgow ANSAR.irfanrabbani (1)
Irfan discusses why he is passionate about the right to self- determine his future and the future of the people of Scotland.
He speaks candidly about his background and family life where his father is the patriarch of the family.

Mr Rabbani Senior is immensely respected and a pioneer from amongst the earliest Pakistani immigrant community in Glasgow. He has commanded loyalty and respect based on the wide relationships he has formed and for working selflessly for the betterment of the wider community. He is the role model Irfan aspires to. Irfan has a strong bond with his father who has always challenged him to realise his potential whether it was in business with him or later in politics.

You may understand my surprise when Irfan proudly mentions that he has three grown up children and is a proud grandfather to another three, as he himself is a very young looking fifty year old. He speaks with great joy of his three children. His eldest graduated with an accountancy degree and is now a successful businessman, married with a daughter.  Irfan’s daughter is a homemaker and busy mum of two boys, whilst his youngest son is a Law graduate. He is at a stage in his life where he is content and enjoying his family and  working actively to help achieve independence for Scotland.

Mr Rabbani Senior and his family came to Glasgow in 1962 from Pakistan when Irfan was five months old. He has lived, been schooled in, and worked all his life in Pollokshields, in the southside of Glasgow.   It is therefore not surprising to know why he is such a passionate advocate for a progressive Pollokshields and the wonderfully diverse community is something which is very dear to his heart.

He has happy memories of Pollokshields Primary School and then studying at Bellahouston Academy. Post education due to his father’s ill health, Irfan followed him into the family business, even though he felt his own strengths lay elsewhere.

Belatedly he took an opportunity to pursue his passion of working with people in the late 1980’s with the Social Work Department in Glasgow. Working with people with mental health issues required great sensitivity and understanding. Later Irfan facilitated in the process of helping people integrate back into the community as long stay institutions such as Lennox Castle Hospital closed.

He believed strongly in assisting people take ownership of their own lives, make their own decisions, contrasting with the isolation and stigma they had previously endured in such institutions.

He has worked tirelessly with service providers to engage disaffected young people through mediums such as sport to draw youngsters to education and training, helping them find jobs and increasing their confidence and self- worth.

His passion in communities was ignited when he saw the destructive, demoralising aftermath suffered by communities when traditional industries such as steel, car making, mining were decimated by the actions of the Conservative Government, now known infamously as the Thatcher years throughout Scotland.

“We are still trying to recover from that crippling legacy a generation later….”

Irfan ran summer camps during the school holidays for children aged five to eight, and eight to fifteen years old. Parents were actively involved in their child’s wellbeing through interaction at the end of a day writing up their child’s holiday diary. This allowed conversations to take place with their children and raised awareness of what was being offered at the camps and ensured active parental participation.

In 2007, he became a somewhat initially reluctant politician. He has a great affinity with young people, who encouraged him to stand and were his staunchest allies along with his father and son, in pushing him forward to electoral victory as a councillor in Pollokshields.

His campaign became a catalyst for young people to take ownership and showed the positive power that they bring to affect change. They saw in him someone who would listen, understand and encourage change and help with the process for young people to gain a voice.

He never needed until now to vocalise that quiet inner voice that wanted the best for his community, for Glasgow, for Scotland, but has shown this through his actions and work in the community.

“I have become more and more disillusioned by how the people of Scotland’s wishes are ignored at Westminster, where they are consistently dismissive of our views and opinions. This has to change.”

Irfan sees the positives of devolution for Scotland and feels strongly that these positives can only be enhanced further by independence. As a lad he kicked a football around the streets of Glasgow, and its where all his family still live. Scotland is his home. The passion is sincere and clear when he says

“Let Scotland move forward to independence, let us make our own choices, drive our own successes, realise our own potential at home and on the world stage. Let the people of Scotland make the decisions by which we have to live with, whether that is on how we will manage the future of the National Health Service, how we treat the most vulnerable in society, and let us write our own definition of social justice. If we make our own choices we can decide whether to have nuclear arms or whether we wish to participate in illegal wars. Let us determine what is best for ourselves and for each other in Scotland and how we relate to the wider world on our own terms. We can only do that if we have full autonomy and the right to self-govern which all independent nations possess.”

For him independence is a natural and needed progression from devolution.

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A few quotes from some of our supporters for an Independent Scotland

We have a growing number of Scottish Asians who strongly believe the only way forward for Scotland to flourish and become more successful is to become independent in order to have full control of all our economic and fiscal powers and why that is so important in order to achieve our goals of independence.

Quotes

“Independence will give us all the chance to help build a new nation. Our diverse communities bring with them important values and often come with an entrepreneurial spirit. There is no doubt that our black and minority ethnic Scots will continue to play an important role in an independent Scotland and continue to help us grow and move towards becoming a more prosperous nation.”

Humza Yousaf, MSP

“Let Scotland move forward to independence, let us make our own choices, drive our own successes, realise our own potential at home and on the world stage. Let the people of Scotland make the decisions by which we have to live with, whether that is on how we will manage the future of the National Health Service, how we treat the most vulnerable in society, and let us write our own definition of social justice. If we make our own choices we can decide whether to have nuclear arms or whether we wish to participate in illegal wars. Let us determine what is best for ourselves and for each other in Scotland and how we relate to the wider world on our own terms. We can only do that if we have full autonomy and the right to self-govern which all independent nations possess.”

Irfan Rabbani

“I have now lived in Scotland for 48 years, this is my home and where my loyalties lie. I want decisions that affect my children, and future grandchildren, to be made by them and the rest of the people of Scotland, not some distant Government they cannot relate to.”

Munawar Yousaf

“Decisions about Scotland should be made by the people who live here and care most about this country. That’s why I’ll be saying Yes to an independent Scotland. Without a shadow of a doubt, we are ready.”

Nighet Nasim Riaz

Many more to come. Please share with us, why you think Scotland should become an independent country. Your views are important to us.

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