5pc people hold 64pc of Pakistan’s farmland

KARACHI, Oct 9: Five per cent bigwigs possess 64 percent of Pakistan’s farmland while 50.8 percent rural households are landless. This was stated at a workshop on ‘Status of land reforms in Pakistan’ organised by the Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment (SCOPE) in collaboration with the Sindh High Court Bar Association and the National Peasants Coalition of Pakistan in a hotel. landJustice Faisal Arab, senior puisne judge of the Sindh High Court, lawyer and farmer leaders attended the programme. Speaking at the workshop, SCOPE chief executive officer Tanveer Arif said that agriculture was the mainstay of Pakistan’s economy, accounting for 25pc of the gross domestic product, 60pc of export earnings and 48pc of employment. He said poverty and food security issues were closely linked to land, therefore, land and agriculture reforms should be made in the country. He said Pakistan inherited feudal system from the British Raj. Land distribution in Pakistan was highly unequal as 5pc of large landholders possess 64pc of the total farmland and 65pc small farmers held 15pc of land. He said corporate farming was initiated in Pakistan during former President Pervez Musharraf’s government which was against the rights of farmers. Some Gulf countries had purchased lands in Pakistan, particularly in Sindh and Balochistan, that would cause water scarcity and deprive local farming community of their rights. Mr Arif said 50.8pc of rural households were landless while the poverty among rural landless people was high. He said land reforms were necessary to alleviate poverty, hunger and malnutrition in Pakistan. The farmers in rural areas were living under extreme poverty due to unjust crop share being given to them by landlords. The peasants were facing malnutrition and severe economic constraints due to that injustice. Large landholdings should be distributed among landless farmers and atmosphere of land equality be created to make farmers prosperous, he concluded. Akhtar Hussain, a Supreme Court advocate, said agriculture income tax should be imposed in the country while land reforms were also a must for development. He said that agriculture income tax was opposed by landlords, which was unjustified. Mustafa Lakhani, president of the Sindh High Court Bar Association, said that feudalism was big hindrance in land reforms in Pakistan. He sought a role of the present government in making land reforms in the country. Excessive powers had caused corruption in Pakistan. National Peasants Coalition of Pakistan representative Noor Nabi Rahujo said the country could not make progress without land reforms. He urged all stakeholders of society to join forces and play their due roles in making drastic land and agriculture reforms in Pakistan. Advocate Qazi Ali Athar said a relentless struggle should be launched for land reforms in Pakistan. He said Sufi Shah Inayat was killed in the Mughal era for his struggle for rights of the farming community. There was a need to follow his struggle for brining about agriculture reforms in the country. He said land reforms not but actual need was to get land rights. Comrade Ramzan Memon called for a result-oriented struggle to get land rights. He said Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had tried to make land reforms but his plan was reversed during the Zia era.—PPI]]>

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