Why a small city in Pakistan supplies the world with Scottish bagpipes

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Marco Werman: Tomorrow, Scots may very well wake up and find out that they are, in fact, independent from Great Britain. But no matter the outcome of the vote, they’ll still be dependent on… wait for it… Pakistan. My BBC colleague, Shaimaa Khalil, is in Islamabad, and what is the dependence on Pakistan all about? Because I couldn’t believe it when I heard this story. Shaimaa Khalil: Well, I was going to say, believe it or not, outside Scotland, Pakistan is the number one manufacturer of, again, as you say, wait for it… bagpipes, which is, having just arrived here a couple of weeks, I couldn’t believe it myself but my colleagues were telling me there is this industrial city called Sialkot not very far from Islamabad that specializes in manufacturing bagpipes, which I just thought was amazing. So, we went to a factory there, this is a family business, it’s been running there for three generations, and we met the current manager, Faisal Naeem, who said that it was his grandfather who made these bagpipes for the British all the way back in colonial India. Werman: So, what’s his hope? Is he invested in the outcome of the referendum, yes or no, and why? Khalil: Oh, he very much is, he very much is, and he’s very clear about what he wants. He definitely wants a “no” vote, he wants things to remain as is because he said “Look, there are many unanswered questions about this. First of all, what currency are we going to be dealing with them in? What happens if Scotland becomes independent? Does that mean they’re going to be dealing with the pound? Does that mean they’ll join the Euro? How will the Euro affect our prices? Do we need to put our prices up?” So his clear answer - I asked him, I said “If you had a right to vote, what would it be?” and he said “My vote would definitely be ‘no’.” Not that he could vote, of course. Werman: What did the factory floor look like in this town where all these bagpipes are made in Pakistan? Khalil: You know, it does feel like a family business but also it was quite surreal because you walk into this room and it’s just full of tartans and men on sewing machines making kilts and putting buckles and pleating. I tell you Marco, the pleating is so accurate. If it wasn’t very, very hot and humid, you would think you were somewhere else, but of course, it reminds you very well, the weather conditions here in Pakistan. So it felt quite, I don’t know, there was a bit of a family affection to it almost. Werman: Have Pakistanis taken to playing this instrument? Khalil: Well, it’s interesting because before I went on tour through that factory, I actually did some research, so I watched a few videos and there are some wedding bands, Pakistani wedding bands that would play at weddings and parties and some of them are quite good actually. But it’s interesting because when we went to the factory, the owner of the factory, the manager, invited us into a room and there was an old man in a marching band uniform who started playing the bagpipe for us. He played a Pakistani song. Let’s have a listen and see what it sounds like. Werman: Shaimaa, generally in Pakistan, are there discussions being had about the Scotland referendum? Is there interest in what’s going on in Scotland? Khalil: I think Pakistan is very much absorbed in its own drama and its own crises. There’s a political crisis here and there are protests on the streets of course, and there’s the crisis of the floods. But, having said that, because it’s such huge news and it’s on all the international outlets, people have been talking about it. Not necessarily about Scotland and England but the idea of separation, the idea of separating a nation, because, of course, Pakistanis know a lot about this and we were chatting to a friend and he was saying “Look, I’m not a Scotsman, I’m not an Englishman, but if I had the vote, I would vote ‘no,’ because separating a nation doesn’t really do you any good and look what happened to us in Pakistan.” According to him, he says that the separation did us a lot of harm. So it’s just an interesting take on what’s happening thousands of miles away, that the idea of separating a nation, to that particular person that we were speaking to, wasn’t appealing at all. Werman: Shaimaa, thank you so much. Khalil: Thanks for having me, always a pleasure, Marco. Werman: The BBC’s Shaimaa Khalil in Islamabad. Whether it’s a yes or a no in Scotland’s independence referendum, we’ll examine the votes outcome tomorrow right here on The World.