5% bigwigs possess 64% of Pakistan’s farm land

KARACHI: Five percent bigwigs possess 64% of Pakistan’s farm land while 50.8 % of rural households are landless. This was informed at a workshop on ‘Status of Land Reforms in Pakistan’ organized by Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment (SCOPE) in collaboration with Sindh High Court Bar Association and National Peasants Coalition of Pakistan at a local hotel. Justice Faisal Arab, Senior Puisne Judge, Sindh High Court, lawyers and farmers community leaders attended the program.
Addressing the workshop, Chief Executive Officer SCOPE, Tanveer Arif, said that agriculture is the mainstay of Pakistan economy, accounting for 25% of GDP, 60% of export earnings and 48% of employment. He said that poverty and food security issues are closely linked to land, therefore, land and agriculture reforms should be made in the country.

He said Pakistan inherited feudal system from British Raja. Land distribution in Pakistan is highly unequal as 5% of large landholders possess 64% of total farm land and 65% small farmers hold 15% of land. Tanveer said corporate farming was initiated in Pakistan during former President Pervez Musharraf’s government which was against the rights of farmers. “Some Gulf countries have purchased lands in Pakistan, particularly in Sindh and Balochistan that would cause water scarcity and deprive local farming community of their rights.”

He said 50.8 % of rural households are landless while the poverty amongst rural landless people is high. He said that land reforms are very necessary to alleviate poverty, hunger and malnutrition in Pakistan. “The farmers in rural areas are living under extreme poverty due to unjustified crop share being given to them by landlords. The peasants are facing malnutrition and severe economic constraints due to this injustice. Large landholdings should be distributed among landless farmers and atmosphere of land equality be created to make farmers prosperous, Tanveer concluded.

Akhtar Hussain, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of Pakistan, said that agriculture income tax should be imposed in the country while land reforms are also must for development. He said that agriculture income tax is opposed by landlords, which is unjustified act. He said: “Every income is subjected to law.” Mustafa Lakhani, President Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA), said that feudalism is big hindrance in land reforms struggle in Pakistan. He sought role of present government in bringing land reforms in the country. “Excessive powers have caused corruption in Pakistan.”

National Peasants Coalition of Pakistan representative, Noor Nabi Rahujo, said that country cannot make progress without land reforms. He urged all stakeholders of the society to join forces and play their due roles for bringing drastic land and agriculture reforms in Pakistan.

Qazi Ali Athar, senior advocate, said that hectic struggle should be launched for land reforms in Pakistan. He said that Sufi Shah Inayat was martyred in Mughal era over his struggle for rights of farming community. There is need to follow his struggle for brining agriculture reforms in the country. He said land reforms not but actual need is to get land rights.

Comrade Ramzan Memon called for result-oriented struggle for getting land rights. He said that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto tried to bring land reforms but his plan in this regard was foiled during Zia era.

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