The plight of rural Pakistan... By Hussain
29 January, 2013
According to a report published in the print media, land ownership in Pakistan is highly unequal as five percent of the large landholders possess 64 percent of the total farm land and 65 percent of the smaller framers hold 15 percent of the farm land. Pakistan has about 20.9 million hectares of land out of which only 26 percent of the land is under cultivation. About 76 percent is irrigated by a network of canals, dams and barrages of the Indus River system.
Pakistan is an agricultural country, and agriculture produce contributes 25 percent of the GDP, 60 percent of export earnings and 45 percent of employment. About 75 percent of Pakistan's population lives in the rural area and depends on agricultural products. About 70 percent of our politicians are landowners and members of the National and provincial Assemblies. About 70 percent of the rural population is illiterate and are deprived of education and healthcare and is living in deplorable conditions out of which 25 percent are living in absolute poverty. Some 60 percent of the people who belong to the rural area are landless and homeless. They work as labourers for large landowners without any rights or protection, the kind that is enjoyed by factory workers. They cannot form unions to protest and demand their rights from the landlords.
Unfortunately, the media, which claims to be the eyes and ears of the people, rarely holds debates on land reforms or highlights the plight of these millions who are living as slaves in rural areas dominated by feudal lords. As long as the large landholders have all the political power and economic advantages, the rural population will remain downtrodden and will be the have-nots. They do not have freedom to vote for their own representatives but have to follow the landlord's wishes. The major political parties are also depending on the large landowners, called electables, to win elections rather than on the poor voters living in rural Pakistan.
S T HUSSAIN