Land for Food Sovereignty in Pakistan
Introduction Our story is simple -- enormous imbalance in economic hence political power sustains intense and widespread oppression of children, their mothers and fathers across not merely Pakistan but all of Southasia.
To be threatened by deprivation of minimal food and shelter is a form of violence, that requires redistribution of economic power in favour of the desperately but unfairly impoverished. Wealth redistribution is essential, which calls for agrarian restructuring as a primary instrument in realising universal rights. Differentiated access to natural resources is nothing but a lethal, even if legal, inequitable future for tens of millions -- beginning with land and then expanding to associated water, and state subsidies.
For tens of millions of landless and near landless subsisting in rural Pakistan, the ceiling set by Zulfiqar Bhutto at 100 acres per owner is way, way too high. Of doubtful relevance is the current award of 16 acres for a few fortunate landless families. A modest transfer can provide the push towards cooperative farming, emphasizing collective responsibility for ecologically conservative use of land.
Committed to a decent life for all, members of the ILO ‘call’ for serious implementation of universal social protection. Our note should then be seen as evoking urgent public action in South Asia, reaffirming our past emphasis upon universalising social security through redistribution of farm land and restructured access to fisheries.
The impetus for this brief comes from the recent release of a much delayed Agriculture Census. We argue for more dedication in implementation than observed for the past land reforms of (Field Marshall) Ayub Khan and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Living in Karachi, we focus this note on Sindh.