Political parties agree to bring land, agrarian reforms

Islamabad: The leaders of political parties PPP, MQM, ANP, PTI and others at a consultative policy seminar on Tuesday agreed to bring new land and agrarian reforms after coming to power in next general elections.

The seminar on the theme of “Land and Agrarian Reforms on Political Agenda of Pakistan: Critical Review of Election Manifesto” was organized by Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment SCOPE in collaboration with National Peasants Coalition of Pakistan, Oxfam Novi, Land Watch Asia, Dry net, International Land Coalition and ANGOC International in Islamabad. Heated speeches and debates were held on land and agrarian reforms at the program.

CEO SCOP Tanvir Arif said that main reason of poverty in Pakistan is terrorism which needs to be eradicated. He said that rise of Talibanization is causing raise in crime rate in the country, particularly in Karachi. He said that the political parties should adopt positive attitude and bring land and agrarian reforms in the country so as to ensure food security and significant development in Pakistan.

He said that one-third people in Pakistan live in rural areas and out of them 50 percent are peasants. He said that water logging salinity is like a cancer which is badly affecting agriculture in the country; therefore, the government should take effective steps to bring an end to it. Tanvir said that some parties have incorporated land reforms in their manifestos while remaining ones are required to include the same before elections.

Abid Hassan Minto, Chairman of Workers Party of Pakistan, said that economic instability in Pakistan is due to acts of richest class, particularly feudal lords. He said that his party would continue its struggle to bring land reforms in Pakistan. The party is also determined to strive for elimination of feudal system from the country. He said that democracy would never flourish in Pakistan till feudal system exists. Haji Adeel of ANP said his party is determined to bring land and agriculture reforms in the country, however, political will is mandatory in this regard. He said that maximum land with one family should be 25 canal and 50 barani acres.

He said that Khyber Pakhtoon Khwa Province have been deprived of industrial growth because it faces load shedding up to 18 hours. Our province creates 5000 to 6000 mega watts of power but in return it is being given torments of load shedding that has badly affected socioeconomic growth of the province. He said that gas load shedding is also hitting hard the people of the region.

PTI leader Shahid Zia said that feudal system could not bring any positive change in the country because this is eroding Pakistan like a cancer. He stressed the need to bring land and agrarian reforms in the country so as to provide relief to farmer’s community which had always been deprived of their rights. He said that landlords are taking major benefits from subsidies being provided by the government, while small farmers still remain affected in this regard. No party has made practical steps to bring land reforms as yet.

He said that PTI would bring land and agrarian reforms if comes to power in next general elections and it would computerize whole land record of the land. He said that literacy rate in rural areas is very low and no steps have been taken to create jobs in rural areas that is why people of rural areas are coming to cities for employment. He called for steps to bring rural industrialization.

PMLN leader Siddiqul Farooq vowed to bring land reforms if his party comes to power. He said that we would provide small loans to farmers, particularly women. He recalled that PMLN had distributed lands among deserving farmers in 1997. He said that we should give agriculture as the status of industry. MQM leader Haider Abbas Rizvi said that Muttahida is sole party in the country that had brought a bill on land reforms in the parliament.

Rizvi said that it was irony that no one talked on the bill. He said that 70 percent landlords in assemblies would not allow land reforms. He said that feudal system should be eliminated from the country for good of farmers and agriculture development.

PPP leader Taj Haider said that water logging and salinity is badly affecting agriculture land and the last PPP government took steps in this regard. He said that a vast area of the land is hit by water logging and salinity which need to be eradicated. He said that we could raise crop production by eliminating water logging and salinity.

He said that eight small dams are being built on the right bank of Indus River and on the left side of Indus River; we should reactivate low lying areas to boost agriculture productions. Minhas Paracha of Oxfam Novib said that there are several Acts and Ordinances in the existence but no one is supporting land reforms in real manner.