Monday, March 9, 2009

Feudal Punjab Fertile Ground for Pakistani Jihadists?

The conventional wisdom holds that Pakistani jihadists come mainly from the radical Wahabi madrassas that proliferated in Pakistan's tribal belt near the Afghan border during the US-Saudi-Pakistani supported campaign against the former Soviet Union. Most of the world attention has, therefore, been focused on the efforts by US and Pakistan to try and contain the influence of NWFP's Deobandi Islam. Some of the madrassas have been forced to shut down while others have been attacked by US and Pakistan. As part of the effort to improve economic opportunities, Pakistan has set up FATA Development Authority and the US and international financial institutions are planning to fund reconstruction opportunity zones (ROZ) to deny recruits to the Jehadist outfits.

In addition to Shia Islam, which accounts for 15-20% of the population, there are primarily two schools of thought among Sunni Muslims in South Asia. Barelvi and Deobandi. Barelvi, or Ahle-Sunna, is a movement of Sunni Sufism that was founded by Ahmed Raza Khan of Bareilly, Rohilkhand India (hence the term Barelvi). Barelvis are a sizable portion of the Hanafi Muslim communities in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Africa and the United Kingdom, besides having a presence in other places around the world. Deobandi is a Sunni Islamic revivalist movement which started in India and Pakistan and has more recently spread to other countries, such as Afghanistan, South Africa and the United Kingdom. The name derives from the town of Deoband, (Uttar Pradesh) India, where the school Darul Uloom Deoband is situated. Deobandis follow the fiqh of Abu Hanifa and the Aqidah of Abu Mansur Maturidi. Deobandi Islam is quite similar to the Wahabi Saudi Islam.

Punjab, the largest province in Pakistan, is considered the home of the followers of the sufi saints who taught a tolerant, loving version of Barelvi Islam. Deobandi Islam (patterned after Saudi Wahabism) is not common in Punjab's rural landscape. But Mumbai attacker Ajmal Qasab's story, published in March 16 issue of Time magazine, suggests that the rising expectations of young Pakistanis and the deprivations they suffer in feudal Punjab are helping the mainly NWFP-Deobandi-inspired Jihadi outfits in their recruiting efforts. Here's an excerpt from Time that implies feudalism drives young men like Qasab to join the terror outfits:

"Faridkot is not the hardscrabble village conjured up by common perceptions of extremist origins. It straddles a paved road about 2 1⁄2 hours' drive from Lahore, and two new gas stations mark the village boundaries. Beyond those are factories and fertile farmland. There is even BlackBerry service. But it is, undeniably, the sort of place that fosters frustration. Feudal landlords own the farmland, and villagers feel trapped by the status they are born into. The good life is tantalizingly close, yet for most residents still unattainable. For men like Qasab, one of the best ways out is jihad. "In a developing country, youngsters who are sensitive, concerned, they talk about 'How do we change what is going on here? How do we get rid of corruption?'" says (Pakistani psychologist Sohail) Abbas. "And if in some sense you find that jihad can help you in those aims, then why not?" It's a convolution of the adolescent craving to stand out. And Pakistani society, steeped in nihilistic passions fostered by the state sponsorship of jihad, condones it."

Like Ajmal Qasab, other unskilled and barely literate workers from rural Punjab are trying to find ways to escape the hard life under their feudal rulers. Some, like Qasab, go to major Pakistani cities in search of a better life and come in contact with Jihadi outfits like LeT. Others try and find employment in the Arab world, particularly Saudi Arabia. Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy describes the impact of exposure to the Arab world as follows:

"Villages (in Punjab) have changed drastically; this transformation has been driven, in part, by Pakistani workers returning from Arab countries. Many village mosques are now giant madrassas that propagate hard-line Salafi and Deobandi beliefs through oversized loudspeakers. They are bitterly opposed to Barelvis, Shias and other sects, who they do not regard as Muslims. The Punjabis, who were far more liberal towards women than the Pukhtuns, are now beginning to take a line resembling that of the Taliban. Hanafi law has begun to prevail over tradition and civil law, as is evident from the recent decisions of the Lahore High Court."

It appears that the radical Islam is now spreading beyond its traditional home in NWFP and FATA to Pakistan's heartland of Punjab. It is also clear that the new generation of Pakistanis do not want to accept life under a feudal or tribal system that denies them basic human dignity.

While the efforts to create and fund reconstruction opportunity zones (ROZ) in FATA are desirable and welcome, what is really needed is an international Marshall Plan style effort toward transforming Pakistan from a feudal/tribal to an industrial society. Such an effort will face major hurdles from the feudal leadership of the major political parties in Pakistan. However, if it is successfully implemented, new opportunities will open up for the nation's young population to offer them better alternatives to joining Jihadi outfits or seeking work in countries like Saudi Arabia.

Related Links:

Qasab's Journey in Time Magazine

Feudal Shadow in Pakistan Elections

UN Millennium Goals in Pakistani Village

Saudi-ization of Pakistan

Pakistan's FATA Face-off Fears

FATA Reconstruction Opportunity Zones

Pakistan Power Centers: Feudals, Clergy and Military


Anonymous said...

... what is really needed is an international Marshall Plan style effort to transform Pakistan from a feudal/tribal to an industrial society.

While the Army remains unreformed? I think not. What Pakistan needs is a modern-day Douglas Macarthur to ensure structural reform of the Pak Army, feudal back-breaking, and industrial progress. Protest all you want about occupation and loss of sovereignty, but the current motley group - civilian and military - are flaming disasters. Musharraf was the best in recent memory - and he was far short of the task.

Riaz Haq said...


We can quibble about the military but what is at stake here is the entire future generation of Pakistan putting the whole nation in jeopardy of perpetual warfare. We need to somehow prevent Pakistan's descent into a very long period of chaos in the interest of Pakistani nation, South Asians and the citizens of our adopted homes in the West.

Anonymous said...

... but what is at stake here is the entire future generation of Pakistan putting the whole nation in jeopardy of perpetual warfare.

Agree that the stakes are too high to quibble.

Question for you: Bhutto promised land reform but did not deliver. Could successful land reform (that Nehru delivered in India, and that Banlgadesh had) break this feudal stranglehold? Could the Army actually deliver that land reform?

Anonymous said...

Wait a min..I thought Ajmal Qasab could not have been Pakistani/muslim because he wore a red thread on his hand? What was all that about?

Anonymous said...

i dont think you can relate it with islam or jihadists.. attack in punjab was because government was busy in crushing PMLN..

Anonymous said...

Why only Punjab?I disagree,apart from Punjab-various other areas are breeding grounds for terrorists.What about education in schools?Have you seen whats written in textbooks of Pakistan public schools??????Full of lies and religious junk ! Why blame only madrassas?? Or just feudal system in Punjab?If others were caught alive-we would have known more about their native places in Pakistan.When you have system that falsely glorifies a religion and demeans and fabricates lies about major nations,you cannot expect Einsteins and Gandhis or Bill Gates to come out of pakistan.What you sow you reap-hence what you get are sophisticated islamic terrorists!

Riaz Haq said...

From Dawn Today .....

Lawyers’ struggle: another view
By Kaiser Bengali
Monday, 30 Mar, 2009 | 07:54 AM PST |

THE successful movement for the reinstatement of Iftikhar Chaudhry is being billed as a historic watershed event that has redefined the politics of the country and, in particular, the relationship between citizen and state.

Whether this conclusion turns out to be an illusion or reality will be tested in due course of time. In the meantime, however, an examination of the composition of the movement raises some disturbing questions.

The movement was started in March 2007 by the lawyers’ community and emerged as a rallying point for democratic forces opposed to Gen Musharraf’s military-backed regime. In the process, it attracted support from a broad spectrum of society — political parties of all shades, civil society and even retired military and intelligence officers. The latter formally organised themselves under the banner of the Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Society.

Following last year’s national polls and Gen Musharraf’s subsequent departure, a section of this coalition lost its enthusiasm for Iftikhar Chaudhry’s reinstatement. The vast majority of dismissed judges also agreed to be reinstated after taking a fresh oath of office under the constitution. However, a core — largely centred in Punjab — remained committed to the original objectives of the movement and continued the campaign. By early 2009, PML-N — the majority party in Punjab — took control of the movement and led it to a successful conclusion.

The movement’s advocates saw themselves on a pedestal as ‘crusaders’ for justice and rule of law and couched their rhetoric in highly moralistic terms. Undoubtedly, the movement comprised eminent individuals of impeccable integrity, who have devoted their careers uncompromisingly to the cause of rule of law and democracy. Due credit in this respect has to be accorded ungrudgingly.

However, a perusal of the roster of the ‘crusaders’ does not inspire unqualified confidence, as many have their past to answer for. There are questions with respect to their commitment to democracy, constitutionalism and rule of law — and their political orientation; with implications for the direction of politics in the country.

It cannot be comforting to note that some of the advocates of the movement were active members, collaborators or supporters of military regimes. Among leaders of the lawyers’ movement, one was a provincial minister under Gen Musharraf’s military regime and another a prosecutor for Gen Musharraf’s National Accountability Bureau. They also included many in the legal fraternity, political parties, civil society and media who were ardent supporters of Gen Musharraf when he subverted the constitution and turned into his bitter critics when he dismissed Iftikhar Chaudhry.

Some of them tried to make their contribution through print and electronic media and others through marching on the streets. That the subversion of the constitution did not stir the conscience of all of the above, but the cause of a PCO judge did is a sad commentary on their credentials with respect to their principled commitment to the rule of law and democracy.

The record of political parties in this coalition also merits close scrutiny. In this respect, the role of Jamaat-i-Islami is particularly murky. It collaborated with the Yahya Khan regime in the massacre in erstwhile East Pakistan, served as the B-team to the violently repressive Ziaul Haq regime, and supported the Musharraf regime in imposing the 17th Amendment — which it now opposes! Under the circumstances, it appears to be a strange voice for judicial, civil rights and democratic causes.

The PML-N has struggled against the Musharraf dictatorship; as such, its leadership’s collaboration with Ziaul Haq’s military dictatorship can perhaps be condoned and their credentials as champions of democracy and constitutionalism accepted. However, they cannot escape responsibility for the terrible mess the country is in today in terms of institutional breakdown and internal terrorism. Notably, their then comrades-in-arms included many military and intelligence officers, some of whom are now their comrades-in-arms in the current movement.

The ex-servicemen are mostly those who served in the armed forces and its intelligence wings during the Zia dictatorship. One of them is a 1977 coup leader, another an intelligence officer who publicly claimed the right to destabilise democratic governments in the name of protecting ‘national interests’, and yet another an intelligence officer who publicly confessed to using state funds to ‘manufacture’ a political party that included the present PML-N leadership.

Some of the officers were integrally involved in the so-called Afghan jihad and in creating the jihadi infrastructure in Pakistan. Allegedly, the core of this jihadi network is located in Punjab, to the extent that the then ruling Taliban cadres in Afghanistan in the late 1990s referred to many of their commanders generically as ‘Punjabis’. Even recently, many of the terrorist perpetrators in the country have been traced to Punjab towns like Toba Tek Singh, Jhang, Rahim Yar Khan and Faridkot. The southern Punjab-centricity of all the above ‘crusaders’ is striking.

The questions that arise are: can the emergence of the above coalition be a mere coincidence? Or has the cover of the issue of Chaudhry Iftikhar’s reinstatement been used to attempt to band together Ziaist rightwing elements, denominated by the military’s national security agenda, religious parties’ theocratic agenda and the business community’s neo-liberal economic agenda? And what does this development portend for the conflict vis-à-vis democracy and federalism in the country and religious extremism in the region?

After all, there is a history of an integral nexus between PML-N leaders, now retired military and intelligence officers and Jamaat-i-Islami under the Ziaul Haq dictatorship. Of course, PML-N has attempted to cast itself in a liberal mould, but two facts militate against an unqualified acceptance of their liberal credentials. One is the fact that many of the important PML-N leaders have a background of association with religious parties, particularly Jamaat-i-Islami. And the other is the fact that it made an abortive attempt in 1998 to introduce the Sharia through the 15th Amendment to the constitution. At the least, these factors raise likely suspicions about its lack of committed opposition to a theocratic agenda.

It appears that ideological battle lines are being drawn. One side appears to coalesce with the largely Punjab-based, PML-N-led rightwing neo-conservative remnants of the Ziaist establishment, committed to a centralised state with a quasi-theocratic national security agenda. The other side appears to comprise nationally based forces, disparately comprising the PPP, ANP, MQM and Baloch parties, seeking a society sans religious bigotry and a polity that is federal and pluralistic. The choices for the people are stark and clear.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's report on water related corruption in Pakistan:

"Pakistan’s irrigation network has always served the privileged elite at the expense of the poor. World Bank and government programs have consistently favored feudal landowners. When the irrigation system was established, the government failed to recognize the land rights of the original inhabitants and allotted irrigated plots to rich landowners and military personnel. While large and very large farmers control 66% of all agricultural land in Pakistan, almost half of all rural households own no land. A World Bank evaluation noted in 1996 that the bank’s projects "provided large and unnecessary transfers of public resources to some of the rural elite."9

The top–down engineering approach to Pakistan’s water sector has also caused massive collateral damage downstream. The Indus Basin Irrigation System starves areas of Sindh province – and particularly the Indus Delta – of water and sediment. And because the sediment trapped in the reservoirs does not replenish the delta, close to 5,000 square kilometers of farm land have already been lost to the sea. Meanwhile salt water is intruding 100 kilometers upstream in the Indus. The lack of water and sediment is destroying flood plain forests that are home to hundreds of thousands of people and mangrove forests that help protect the coast against storms.

While the downstream areas suffer from a water shortage, wasteful water use is wreaking environmental and economic havoc in the command area. Over–irrigation and inadequate drainage have caused the water table to rise across a large area. As a result, about 60% of all farm plots in Sindh are plagued by water logging and salinity."

Please read here for more details.

brelvi said...

i dont agree.

latest news said...

They are not jihaid,s they are terrorists. Jihad means to fight against injustice.

islam nasheed said...

what Ajmal and his friends did was not jihad but terror according to Quran. then how u calling them jihadi,s????

Riaz Haq said...

islam: "what Ajmal and his friends did was not jihad but terror according to Quran. then how u calling them jihadi,s????"

It's not what you or I think that's important when it comes to Kassab's alleged actions. It's what Kassab and his handlers think that's more important. Let's not close our eyes to the reality of what's happening in Punjab with the radicals gaining strength. What is needed is reform to create opportunities for education and jobs to get the rural young people out of the cycle of poverty, slavery and violence.

bollywood songs said...

well i am from punjab i dont think they are getting up in punjab and even in wazristan they are hit hard.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report in today's NY Times about deep discontent among Pakistani youth:

LAHORE, Pakistan — Pakistan will face a “demographic disaster” if it does not address the needs of its young generation, the largest in the country’s history, whose views reflect a deep disillusionment with government and democracy, according to a report released here on Saturday.

The report, commissioned by the British Council and conducted by the Nielsen research company, drew a picture of a deeply frustrated young generation that feels abandoned by its government and despondent about its future.

An overwhelming majority of young Pakistanis say their country is headed in the wrong direction, the report said, and only 1 in 10 has confidence in the government. Most see themselves as Muslim first and Pakistani second, and they are now entering a work force in which the lion’s share cannot find jobs, a potentially volatile situation if the government cannot address its concerns.

“This is a real wake-up call for the international community,” said David Steven, a fellow at the Center for International Cooperation at New York University, who was an adviser on the report. “You could get rapid social and economic change. But the other route will lead to a nightmare that would unfold over 20 to 30 years.”

The report provides an unsettling portrait of a difficult time for Pakistan, a 62-year-old nuclear-armed country that is fighting an insurgency in its western mountains and struggling to provide for its rapidly expanding population. The population has risen by almost half in just 20 years, a pace that is double the world average, according to the report................
The findings were sobering for Pakistani officials. Faisal Subzwari, minister of youth affairs for Sindh Province, who attended the presentation of the report in Lahore, said: “These are the facts. They might be cruel, but we have to admit them.”

But young Pakistanis have demonstrated their appetite for collective action, with thousands of people taking to the streets last spring as part of a movement of lawyers, who were demanding the reinstatement of the chief justice, and Mr. Steven argued that the country’s future would depend on how that energy was channeled. “Can Pakistan harness this energy, or will it continue to fight against it?” he said.

Riaz Haq said...

According to a Times of India report, Kasab has answered the judge's questions in Marathi language.

Another newspaper, Indian Express, has reported that Bal Thackeray is asking why others in Mumbai can not learn Marathi if Kassab can?

Riaz Haq said...

The recent tragic assassination of Gov Salman Taseer has caused many to rethink whether the South Asian Barelvi or Sufi Islam is really more tolerant than Deobandi or Wahabi Islam imported into Pakistan from Saudi Arabia.

Clearly, the followers of Barelvi Islam have not hesitated in supporting blasphemy laws, and they have shamelessly cheered the murder of Salman Taseer who spoke for repeal of such laws.

I also think the Barelvi or Sufi Islam in Pakistan has been hijacked by the feudal-politcal class of makhdooms (Yusuf Raza Gilani, Shah Mahmmood Qureshi, Javed Hashmi, Amin Fahim, etc) to exploit their self-proclaimed lineage from Prophet Mohammad (their so-called Syed status) as a way to maintain their feudal-cum-spiritual power over the poor peasants in Sind and Southern Panjab.

This feudal domination of politics has badly hurt the emergence of real democracy and any advancement of the poor, illiterate rural folks in Pakistan, and contributed to the growth of religious extremism particularly in rural Punjab.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's "The Other Story" on Salman Taseer seen through thye eyes of Shirin Sadeghi as published in The Huffington Post:

Albert Camus's famous novel, The Stranger, was the story of a man who was killed not because of a crime he had committed but because of a steady rise in publicity about his character faults. Little things bothered people about the Stranger -- he didn't cry at his mother's funeral, he had a steady girlfriend he didn't plan to marry. When he became implicated in a crime, the trial became a showcase of all the tiny things he did in his private life that the public didn't approve of or simply didn't understand -- though none of these things were exactly wrong or immoral, in sum and in public, they cost him his life.

Salman Taseer was a Stranger in Pakistan. His millions of dollars, British mother, private relationships, and extravagant Western lifestyle -- though not in themselves crimes nor even shortcomings in character, could not possibly have been more in contrast with the very poor and increasingly religiously extreme population of Pakistan.

In the last few years, more and more of the private details of his life were leaked into the public consciousness, private photos were obtained and published, personal habits were recounted. Here in the U.S., a large number of tributes to him have framed him as a crusader of human rights who died for good but the fact is -- and most Pakistanis will tell you, if they are not in the habit of pandering to Western imagery, that what really killed Salman Taseer was anything but an isolated -- though brave -- act of heroism.

The ugly truth of Pakistan today is not about a battle between do-gooders and those who oppose them. What killed Salman Taseer was the primary and overwhelming disparity in Pakistan -- the one that has steadily fundamentalized that country since the days of the U.S.-imposed religious dictator Zia ul-Haq, through the first Afghan war and now the new Afghan war that is also blatantly being fought in Pakistan. That disparity is one of wealth, of have-nothings and have-everythings.

The great anger in Pakistan against the current President Zardari, his slain wife and their family has very clearly been against the extravagance of their elite Western lives -- the wealth and abundance, their obvious dismissal of not only the tragic and obvious poverty of the country they rule down on, but the values and traditions of its people which they may never have even learned, or simply choose not to respect.

Salman Taseer was also a multimillionaire -- though many people agree he came upon most of his wealth through industry rather than other means. But in a country as poor as Pakistan whose public has for a generation now increasingly embraced religion as the singular means of acquiring any authority or voice against the feudal lords and wealthy elite who are granted government positions from their friends to rule over people, apart from extreme and flamboyant wealth, the other major crime against decency is being out of touch with the public's values.

Those values include religion, and Taseer, a man who reportedly carried a tiny Koran around his neck, nonetheless did not understand that he had no authority to impinge on religious matters. Strangers cannot afford to be activists, even if it is just once.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on Wikileaks cables regarding Saudi money funding militants in Southern Punjab:

KARACHI: A US official in a cable sent to the State Department stated that “financial support estimated at nearly 100 million USD annually was making its way to Deobandi and Ahl-i-Hadith clerics in south Punjab from organisations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ostensibly with the direct support of those governments.”

The cable sent in November 2008 by Bryan Hunt, the then Principal Officer at the US Consulate in Lahore, was based on information from discussions with local government and non-governmental sources during his trips to the cities of Multan and Bahawalpur.

Quoting local interlocutors, Hunt attempts to explain how the “sophisticated jihadi recruitment network” operated in a region dominated by the Barelvi sect, which, according to the cable, made south Punjab “traditionally hostile” to Deobandi and Ahl-i-Hadith schools of thought.

Hunt refers to a “network of Deobandi and Ahl-i-Hadith mosques and madrassahs” being strengthened through an influx of “charity” which originally reached organisations “such as Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Al-Khidmat foundation”. Portions of these funds would then be given away to clerics “in order to expand these sects’ presence” in a relatively inhospitable yet “potentially fruitful recruiting ground”.

Outlining the process of recruitment for militancy, the cable describes how “families with multiple children” and “severe financial difficulties” were generally being exploited for recruitment purposes. Families first approached by “ostensibly ‘charitable’” organisations would later be introduced to a “local Deobandi or Ahl-i-Hadith maulana” who would offer to educate the children at his madrassah and “find them employment in the service of Islam”. “Martyrdom” was also “often discussed”, with a final cash payment to the parents. “Local sources claim that the current average rate is approximately Rs 500,000 (approximately USD 6,500) per son,” the cable states.

Children recruited would be given age-specific indoctrination and would eventually be trained according to the madrassah teachers’ assessment of their inclination “to engage in violence and acceptance of jihadi culture” versus their value as promoters of Deobandi or Ahl-i-Hadith sects or recruiters, the cable states.

Recruits “chosen for jihad” would then be taken to “more sophisticated indoctrination camps”. “Locals identified three centres reportedly used for this purpose”. Two of the centres were stated to be in the Bahawalpur district, whereas one was reported as situated “on the outskirts of Dera Ghazi Khan city”. These centres “were primarily used for indoctrination”, after which “youths were generally sent on to more established training camps in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and then on to jihad either in FATA, NWFP, or as suicide bombers in settled areas”.

The cable goes on to quote local officials criticising the PML-N-led provincial and the PPP-led federal governments for their “failure to act” against “extremist madrassas, or known prominent leaders such as Jaish-i-Mohammad’s Masood Azhar”. The Bahawalpur district nazim at the time told Hunt that despite repeatedly highlighting the threat posed by extremist groups and indoctrination centres to the provincial and federal governments, he had received “no support” in dealing with the issue unless he was ready to change his political loyalties. The nazim, who at the time was with the PML-Q, “blamed politics, stating that unless he was willing to switch parties…neither the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz provincial nor the Pakistan People’s Party federal governments would take his requests seriously”.

Riaz Haq said...

Flooding has devastated Pakistan – and Britain’s imperial legacy has made it worse
Shozab Raza

Take the story of Bashir Dasti, a tenant farmer I met a few years ago while doing fieldwork in south Punjab. Two weeks ago, his mud house was destroyed by flooding, as was the land he rented, the cotton he cultivated and the cattle he had spent years rearing. Many other farmers and agricultural labourers I got to know in Rajanpur, now a centre of the flooding, have also lost their homes and livelihoods. The Pakistan government has tasked local officials – patwaris – with adminstering relief for flood victims, yet when Bashir approached one, they tried to extort him: he was told that he would only be added to the list if he paid 10,000 Pakistani rupees (roughly £40). Bashir earns a meagre income from farming and pays exorbitant rent to his landlord, an aristocrat from a Baloch tribe called Leghari. He couldn’t pay that kind of money.

Back in the 19th century, the British Raj built alliances with local elites in order to secure its rule. In Rajanpur, Bashir’s district, this was particularly important – many tribal chiefs, including the Legharis, were armed and hostile. So in exchange for their loyalty, the Raj turned representative chiefs into unrepresentative aristocrats, granting them magisterial powers, a paramilitary apparatus and immense landed estates (jagirs) on newly irrigated land. The relationship set off a mutually beneficial pillaging of the region, whereby the British Raj and the now-landed aristocrats siphoned off rents, land revenues, and export cash cops like indigo, opium and cotton, all at the expense of previously pastoral tribesmen now forced to settle and toil as local farmers. Combined with expanding canal irrigation, tribesmen’s coerced settlement and exploitation – the British viewed seasonally migrating tribes as a security threat – left them further exposed to floods.

Because of this imperial patronage, as well as rising rents due to growing competition for tenancies with the decline of pastoral livelihoods, inequalities between landlords and peasants rose dramatically over the 19th and 20th centuries. While peasants lived in mud houses vulnerable to flooding – archives report several “great floods” affecting the south Punjab region – their chief landlords built lavish, well-fortified housing compounds on immense estates. By the 1920s, the highest-ranking Leghari aristocrat owned about 114,000 acres of land.