Road to progress: ‘For a prosperous Pakistan, land reforms inevitable’

Political leaders urge unity among parties for country’s uplift.

Riazul Haq November 09, 2012


Effective land reforms are inevitable for sustainable food security, increased farm productivity, poverty alleviation and socio-economic uplift of the country.

This was the consensus among political leaders and economic experts who had gathered for a seminar on land reforms on Thursday.

Perhaps the strongest stance in favour of reforms was taken by Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Farooq Sattar, who actively led the discussion and urged the civil society members to play their role in pushing for land reforms.

“It is high time for all political parties to clearly express their commitment and incorporate equitable, effective land and agrarian reforms in their election manifestos,” he said. “After terrorism, the biggest threat to the country is economic nose-dive.”

The minister blamed the status quo and ad hocism for the exclusion of underprivileged people in the policymaking process. “Around Rs100 million can be added to the national kitty taxing the bigwigs of wheat, sugarcane, rice and tobacco. If a common man can come under the tax net, why not the big fishes?” he questioned. Adviser to Punjab Governor Abdullah Malik said the feudal chiefs count for 2% of the population, but rule the entire country as per their will and convenience.

Describing the agriculture sector as the backbone of the industrial sector, he said land reforms are a must for the industrial sector’s uplift.

He observed that the absence of land reforms is directly related to surging rural poverty, malnutrition, burgeoning unemployment, unsustainable use of agrarian land, increasing water logging and salinity of farmlands.Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Shahid Zia lamented that the policymakers are the beneficiaries of their own policies and safeguard their own rights by marginalising poor peasants and farmers.

“The subsidies are never targeted and focused and only the agricultural giants benefit from them,” he remarked. “Even the research conducted by universities is expensive and cannot be utilised by small farmers,” Zia added.

Senator Taj Haider of the PPP stressed on unity among political parties for effective land reforms. “We should be vocal enough to identify the problems. We are about to establish cooperatives in rural areas so we can facilitate farmers by giving them credit and scientific knowledge,” he said.

He said farmers in rural areas are being given free seeds and fertilisers through the Benazir Income Support Programme and Watan Cards. Besides, he said 18 acres of land gets eroded in Sindh everyday, while 38% of Punjab and 63% of Sindh’s land has been affected by water logging.

The seminar was organised by Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment in collaboration with Oxfam International, Land Watch Asia, International Land Coalition and National Peasants Coalition of Pakistan-Pakistan Kisan Sangat.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 9th, 2012.


Khurram Zia Khan | 8 years ago | Reply

Now is the time to take action.Sadly land reforms is not a top priority of any political party.Government can not take steps as most of legislators and armed forces personnel come from rural areas and these people never all land reforms. Land lords want to keep control on their people thats why education standard in villages is poor.Lets hope some thing concrete be done in this regard soon for the long term betterment of country

Naseer Ahmad | 8 years ago | Reply

Yes genuine land reforms are inevitable for a prosperous Pakistan. But it is on revenue record that in President Ayub Khan land reforms 95 lac acres of land was resumed for distribution among the landless tenants despite a flexible ceiling of 500 aces of irrigated land and 1000 acres of arid land. On the other hand in Z A Bhutto,s land reforms only 5 lac acres of land was resumed despite the low ceiling of 150 acre of irrigated land and 300 acres of arid land. Why this big difference. The answer is that the ruling elite allowed the feudals to transfer their land holdings above the ceiling to their relatives and faithful servants and also manipulate the yardstick of produce index unit showing the orchards and irrigated land as arid one.The number of produce index unit had a marked difference for these three types of agricultural land. The orchards had 141 produce index units in one acre ; the irrigated one had 74 and arid had 27 produce index units.

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