25% landlords possess 75% of country land: moot told

HYDERABAD: Speakers at a tribunal stressed the need to bring land reforms and provide land rights to landless peasants so as to end poverty from the country.

“Despite being agriculture country, Pakistan’s rural areas are under severe poverty which is matter of great  concern. Farmers community in the country has been deprived of their rights due to nexus between the government and landlords who hold a great share of land,” they said while addressing People’s Tribunal on Land Rights in Sindh, organized by Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment (SCOPE) in collaboration with Oxfam and Grow Campaign at a local hotel on Tuesday.

In his welcome address, SCOPE Chief Executive Officer, Tanvir Arif, said “Pakistan depends on agriculture but unfortunately, its rural areas, are under poverty. This poverty is due to unequal distribution of land.” He said that 25% landlords hold majority of land while 75 people hold remaining land of the country.   He said that we need technology to irrigate land and incentives for farmers.

Tanvir Arif said that there is urgent need of land reforms in Pakistan because they are being conducted in Brazil for welfare of farmers. Land reforms are necessary for alleviating poverty from the country.

He said that Bhutto brought land reforms first time in Pakistan but they proved fail, while during Zia regime land reforms were declared un-Islamic by Shariat Court.

He said that Corporate Farming Policy was introduced in Musharraf government under which foreign countries were allowed to purchase land in Pakistan at their will. Those countries who have purchased lands are producing crops here and sending crop production to their countries. This will cause food insecurity in the country, he added.

Manager Oxfam International, Shahbaz Bokhari, said that Oxfam is working for ending social imbalances in Pakistan and other parts of the world so that people could pass life with peace of mind, while  Oxfam Grow Campaign is working in 40 countries of world and its aim is to conduct advocacy of people and inform them that the land is the right of farmers.

He said that 50% population of Pakistan is food insecure. Thar is facing acute food shortage, where children are dying due to it. He said that land should be given to landless peasants as it would help alleviate poverty from the country.

Social leader and writer, Jami Chandio, said that land reforms issue is existing since establishment of Pakistan. He said that land reforms agenda should be brought to the court of people. He called for joint efforts to get rights of farmers and bring real land reforms in the country.

He said 62% farmers in Pakistan are landless or have less than five acres of land as a result, social injustices are prevalent in country.

Social leader Noor Nabi Rahooju said that 2200 acres of land was distributed among landless farmers in Taluka Manjhand of district Jamshoro but later they were informed by the authorities that these lands belong to forest department. The crops grown on these lands were given under the control of government, while farmers were deprived of even their investment which they made in the crop growing. This act of the government is strongly deplorable, he concluded.

He said that such injustices should be ended in the society. He said that these farmers have filed cases in courts, which are in pending. He said that Pakistan needs result-oriented land reforms so as to end poverty and bring prosperity in the country.

President Bhandar Sangat Taj Marri said:  ”We are struggling for amendments in Sindh Tenancy Act because many rights of farmers have been gulped up under it. He said that latest amendments made in Sindh Tenancy Act should be abolished and recommendations made by farmers be incorporated in it. He said that farmers have always struggled for their rights but landlords have deprived them of their rights. He said that farmers face discrimination in distribution of crop between them and landlords, which also needs to be ended.

Chief Conservator Forest Riaz Hussain Wagan, Justice (Retd) Wajeehudin Ahmed and Environment Law Attorney Qazi Ali Athar also spoke on the occasion.

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