The Case for Land and Agrarian Reforms in Pakistan (PB-12)

The Case for Land and Agrarian Reforms in Pakistan (PB-12)

Publication details

  • Thursday | 01 Feb, 2001
  • Shahrukh Rafi Khan, Ali Qadir, Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, Muhammad Salim Khawaja, Foqia Sadiq Khan
  • Policy Briefs/Papers
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Shahrukh Rafi Khan, Ali Qadir, Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, Ahmad Salim and  Foqia  Sadiq Khan 2001 Abstract We show that, at least for the one province (NWFP) for which data are available from the Federal Land Commission, land ownership is highly concentrated and has become much more so between 1980 and 1990.  The Agricultural Census done every ten years collects data on operational holdings.  These data suggest that operational holdings have become much more fragmented, and between 1980 and 1990, there was an increase in total farm sizes below 12.5 acres from 80 percent to 88 percent of the total land cultivated.  As land becomes more fragmented, it appears that large landlords, who have the requisite liquidity, add to their holdings.  Thus the agenda for the state is to both ensure a fair distribution of land holdings and also to ensure broader agrarian reform to ensure that small farm cultivation is both just, if under tenancy contact, and sustainable if under self-cultivation.   We indicate that the case for land reform is very strong particularly on grounds of justice more broadly, but specifically from an Islamic perspective.  Islam views natural resources, including land, as a trust, with individuals having usufruct rights only from the amount they can reasonably cultivate and only if they are actually cultivating it themselves.  We also build the case for land reform on several other grounds including the economic argument of higher productivity of small farms and the need for land reform to make devolution and accompanying reforms successful since these reforms are subverted by landed power, and finally to enhance education since landed power has been shown to be inversely associated with mean educational attainment in villages.  Finally, we indicate how a new round of land and agrarian reforms could be made more effective by avoiding the pitfalls and mistakes of past half-hearted attempts.