Friday, July 8, 2011

Land For Landless Women in Pakistan

The PPP-led Sindh government is granting over 212,864 acres of government-owned agriculture land to landless peasants in the province.

Over half of the farm land being given is prime nehri (land irrigated by canals) farm land, and the rest being barani or rain-dependent. About 70 percent of the 5,800 beneficiaries of this gift are women. Other provincial governments, especially the Punjab government have also announced land allotment for women, for which initial surveys are underway, according to ActionAid Pakistan.

The land is high-risk government land that runs alongside rivers and tributaries. It was previously designated as government-owned flood runoff, but was used by local landlords.

The initiative includes various RSPs (Rural Support Programs) to develop support packages for availability of water and other inputs such as seed and fertilizer. Depending on geographic contiguity, the beneficiaries will be organized in cooperative mode for enabling them to access agricultural implements, farm machinery and micro credit on collective basis. The government will provide support for at least a period of two years through an institutional support mechanism for enabling each household to move to a level where they are able to generate sustainable living.

Here are the stories of how the lives of two women beneficiaries of land distribution are changing for the better as reported by various media:

Oxfam Report:

Mother of five, Sodhi Solangi, can’t stop smiling as she shows me her new eight acre plot of land. Cotton crops are growing and, a little further away, building work is almost finished on a large new house overlooking the fields where her family will soon settle.



Just a few years ago, 42 year old Sodhi, who lives in Ramzan Village, Umerkot district, in Sindh, Pakistan, was landless. She and her husband used to work on others’ lands, earning a share of the crops as payment. Daily life was a struggle.

“We often had problems”, Sodhi recalled. “Sometimes we had money, sometimes not. It was very hard for us. We’d spend all our days working on someone else’s farm and our children would be at home.

“We wore torn clothes. But now things are very different. When you like something, you can go out and buy it. Before, we would have to ask the landlord to give us money if we wanted anything, but now we have money in our hands and we can buy things whenever we want.”

“Now we have our own land and are working on our own land. It feels so good when we work there. When we used to work for others, we would have to drag ourselves there.”

Her family’s luck changed when Sodhi was awarded eight acres of land, under a programme run by Sindh’s provincial government, which in 2008 began redistributing swathes of state-held land to landless women peasants. The landmark scheme was an attempt to lift more people out of poverty in the province, where more than two-thirds of the population work the land, but where bonded labour is still widely practiced and most land is still held by wealthy and political influential elites.

Sohdi and her family grew wheat and cotton on their new land. And they managed to earn enough profit to buy another eight acres.

“We were so happy when we go our land. Now, things are so different”, said Sodhi. “Whenever we want to eat anything, we can just buy it. Before, we used to eat dal and potatoes. Now we can buy all sorts of things – mangos, even chicken.”

“Everyday, we have a lot of food. It’s like a festival of food for us every time!” she said, laughing.


Christian Science Monitor:

When the fields are cleared, Nimat Khatoon, a 50-something peasant farmer who has worked for the wealthy owner of these fields since her childhood has something worth the wait: a four-acre slice of land to call her own.

"It's something I couldn't dream of seeing in my lifetime. We're so happy," she says with a toothy grin, as her children play around her home made of wooden slats and a thatched roof.
---
Khatoon's family still owes some 40,000 rupees ($470) to the landlord her family has worked under for generations – a princely sum, which could still take another year to clear – though thanks to her newly acquired land, she's hopeful that for the first time ever, the cycle of debt won't begin afresh next year.


As expected, the rich landlords are fighting back by making threats of violence and by filing legal challenges via local peasants in their employ, to take back land that was in their de facto control. Sharaeefa Gulfazar, a recipient of 4.5 acres of land, told Oxfam's Caroline Gluck: “The landlord sent officials to threaten the women here saying, "We will destroy your homes and take your tractors". He also threatened to send the police to our home”.

The women, however, are also receiving help from various NGOs and activist groups to assert their rights. An example of this is Participatory Development Initiatives (PDI) who are fighting through the courts for the women.

Farm land has long been the main source of wealth in rural Pakistan, and the allocation of land to women is a powerful symbol of women empowerment. Genuine implementation of the good intentions of the Sindh government initiative is an absolute must to send a message in patriarchal society that women deserve higher status in society to ensure a brighter future for all of Pakistan.


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Status of Women in Pakistan

Pakistan's Rural Economy

Fighting Poverty Through Microfinance in Pakistan

Ode to Feudal Prince of Pakistan

Who Owns Pakistan?

Pakistan: Helping the landless become landowners

Feudal Slavery Survives in South Asia

Owning Land is a Distant Dream For Many

Agriculture and Textiles Employ Most Indians and Pakistanis

Female Literacy Lags Far Behind in South Asia

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

what Rubbish!
PAkistan needs wholesale seizure and redistribution of zamindari lands via tenenacy confirmation to eliminate feudalism once and for all.

India did this in the 1950s itself.Ofcourse it was politically easy in India because the congress of bankrolled by large Industrialists and the feudals were seen as british collaborators.Thus there was near unanimous consensus.

Whereas Pakistan movement were financed by the feudals actively encouraged by the British and tacitly supported by the Hindu right who wanted muslims out.

Pavan said...

Thanks. This is a very progressive move. Pavan

Shams said...

If I believed that the land would go to "landless women", I will also happily buy Karachi Airport from Elvis Presley.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "India did this in the 1950s itself.Ofcourse it was politically easy in India because the congress of bankrolled by large Industrialists and the feudals were seen as british collaborators.Thus there was near unanimous consensus."

In spite of Nehru's good intentions, land reform in India has really not worked out in favor of poor farmers, as evidenced by 200,000 farmer suicides in the last decade.

Here's an excerpt from a paper "Land Reform in India: Issues and challenges" by Manpreet Sethi:

Fifty-four years down the line, however, a number of problems remain far from resolved. Most studies indicate that inequalities have increased, rather than decreased. The number of landless laborers has risen, while the wealthiest 10 percent of the population monopolizes more land now than in 1951. Moreover, the discussion of land reforms since World War II and up through the most
recent decade either faded from the public mind or was deliberately glossed over by both the national government of India and a majority of international development agencies. Vested interests of the landed elite and their powerful connection with the political-bureaucratic system have blocked meaningful land reforms and/or their earnest implementation. The oppressed have either been co-opted with some benefits, or further subjugated as the new focus on liberalization, privatization, and globalization (LPG) has altered government
priorities and public perceptions. As a result, we are today at a juncture where land—mostly for the urban, educated elite, who are also the powerful decision
makers—has become more a matter of housing, investment, and infrastructure building; land as a basis of livelihood—for subsistence, survival, social
justice, and human dignity—has largely been lost.

Anonymous said...

In spite of Nehru's good intentions, land reform in India has really not worked out in favor of poor farmers, as evidenced by 200,000 farmer suicides in the last decade.

There are no farmer suicides in NW India with land as fertile as that in PAkistan.Farmers in these places also do not live under the tyranny of feudal lords.Farmer suicides are basically in places with poor soil quality and various socio economic factors.

What Nehru & Co did was destroy feudalism in the country without violent revolution in places where it was widespread like in China.

Feudals with their inherent rent seeking mindset which is keeping back PAkistan don't exist in India and that is quite an achievement for a country the size of India in the first decade of independence.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "There are no farmer suicides in NW India with land as fertile as that in PAkistan.Farmers in these places also do not live under the tyranny of feudal lords.Farmer suicides are basically in places with poor soil quality and various socio economic factors."

Really?

Here's a BBC report on farmers killing themselves in Indian Punjab:

Mandip Kaur, a 29-year-old housewife from a farming family in southern Punjab, guards her husband round the clock.

"I fear he may commit suicide," she says in broken Hindi.

Almost every village in Punjab has witnessed a suicide in their once-prosperous farming families and it is a major issue in the general election.

Ms Kaur's 35-year-old husband, Lakhbir Singh, a small farmer with a two-acre land holding, is a strong and neatly dressed man.

He shows no sign of irritation or discomfort when we meet him in the village of Boparai Khurd in Barnala, about 500km (300 miles) north of Delhi.

Each year before the harvest, the small farmers of Punjab, who make up nearly 85% of the state's farming community, borrow from local rural moneylenders at exorbitant interest rates to meet production costs, including fertilisers and electricity for irrigation.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7992327.stm

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece by Prof Roy Prosterman of the Rural Development Institute on land distribution in Pakistan:

Pakistan’s land-tenure problems are more severe and have been more persistently ignored than nearly any others found on the planet. Though last year’s flood altered Pakistan’s landscape, it did not alter the fact that the vast majority of land in Pakistan is owned by a very small number of landlords – chiefly by 300 families of “feudals” who have ruled the Pakistani countryside for generations.

Their workers make up nearly half of the rural population, own no land, and toil as sharecroppers, day laborers, or under debt bondage. For generations, the only land most of them have been able to call their own is the plot for their grave.

These landless poor have no meaningful stake in rural society and it is often the Taliban who step in to use the poor’s grievances as grounds for recruitment.

For the poor, owning at least some land of one’s own is a lifeline to survival – a basic source of nutrition, income, status, and security. Grossly mistreated by landowners, the landless poor in country after country have supported severe civil unrest and outright revolution.

But solutions exist. In neighboring India, a number of individual states are now granting cost-free ownership of house-and-garden plots of about a tenth of an acre (slightly bigger than a tennis court) to the landless poor. Last year, India’s central government, eager to make further progress on the issue of landlessness and to undermine a persisting Marxist rebel movement, pledged $200 million to help buy lands – earmarked to become another 2 million micro-plots – at market price.

In Pakistan itself, Sindh Province has distributed 43,000 acres of government-owned land since 2008, mostly to poor rural women. That distribution has been of much larger plots (about 10 acres), but the same quantity of land could reach more than 400,000 landless families using the smaller house-and-garden plot model. Indeed, Punjab Province, Pakistan’s most populous, is now distributing one-quarter-acre plots to an initial 1,500 landless families, using government land.

The house-and-garden small-plot model reduces the amount of land required, allowing the government to acquire the land voluntarily, at market price, or use underutilized public land.

Huge amounts of assistance are now flowing into Pakistan from the world community. Islamabad and the provinces, with the support of the international community, should embrace giving micro-plots to the landless to ensure that the laborers who didn’t drown in their landlord’s fields are afforded a chance to build better lives for themselves, creating greater stability in Pakistan, and in turn furthering global security

Mayraj said...

They are giving high risk land away?
After the flood? Which is bound to not be the last in this era of global warming?
Maybe they should grow their plants on bamboo platforms?

Riaz Haq said...

Mayraj: "They are giving high risk land away?
After the flood? Which is bound to not be the last in this era of global warming?"

High risk does not mean this government-owned land has no value...the fact is that the rich landlords who have been illegally planting crops on this land are fighting to keep it in their possession.

As to global warming and potential for flooding and droughts, these a much bigger issues that the entire nation of Pakistan, and South Asia and the rest of the world face.

Hopefully, there is enough time for the poor women and their families to benefit from this land and improve their situation in terms of education and health for a better future.

Mayraj said...

Rich landlords are short sighted and they have other land that can still be used. If they had any intelligence, they would protect other land from being inundated by building barriers. If they have the money they can do it.
If these women are not given money management skills, what will they do when their land goes underwater?
True this is a bigger issue;but, shouldn't most vulnerable be protected?
Just looked at US, West and Midwest, facing100 years floods on more regular basis.

Riaz Haq said...

Mayraj:

The initiative includes various RSPs (Rural Support Programs) to develop support packages for availability of water and other inputs such as seed and fertilizer. Depending on geographic contiguity, the beneficiaries will be organized in cooperative mode for enabling them to access agricultural implements, farm machinery and micro credit on collective basis. The government will provide support for at least a period of two years through an institutional support mechanism for enabling each household to move to a level where they are able to generate sustainable living.

Mayraj said...

Microcredit has been a disaster for Indian farmers. Availability of water? Using canals that are silting up as are rivers that tend to flood or reliance on tube wells can only be a temporary palliative.
http://www.newscientist.com/ article/dn6321-asian-farmers- sucking-the-continent-dry.html
Asian farmers sucking the continent dry
Why are there no land reforms? Why no effort to give alternate jobs? I think land reforms at this stage when water is more scarce won't help as much, the way it would have done if it had been done decades earlier. Now Pakistan has to push for manufacturing and a more diversified economy.
What these women have is a temporary bandage on a deeper wound. If they can use this to move on to some thing else within a few years (and pass this parcel on to others who didn't benefit) fine. If they remain trapped in this situation no.

Riaz Haq said...

Mayraj:

Please read the following Oxfam report to judge for yourself if women are being helped by Sindh land grants:


Mother of five, Sodhi Solangi, can’t stop smiling as she shows me her new eight acre plot of land. Cotton crops are growing and, a little further away, building work is almost finished on a large new house overlooking the fields where her family will soon settle.



Just a few years ago, 42 year old Sodhi, who lives in Ramzan Village, Umerkot district, in Sindh, Pakistan, was landless. She and her husband used to work on others’ lands, earning a share of the crops as payment. Daily life was a struggle.

“We often had problems”, Sodhi recalled. “Sometimes we had money, sometimes not. It was very hard for us. We’d spend all our days working on someone else’s farm and our children would be at home.

“We wore torn clothes. But now things are very different. When you like something, you can go out and buy it. Before, we would have to ask the landlord to give us money if we wanted anything, but now we have money in our hands and we can buy things whenever we want.”

“Now we have our own land and are working on our own land. It feels so good when we work there. When we used to work for others, we would have to drag ourselves there.”

Her family’s luck changed when Sodhi was awarded eight acres of land, under a programme run by Sindh’s provincial government, which in 2008 began redistributing swathes of state-held land to landless women peasants. The landmark scheme was an attempt to lift more people out of poverty in the province, where more than two-thirds of the population work the land, but where bonded labour is still widely practiced and most land is still held by wealthy and political influential elites.

Sohdi and her family grew wheat and cotton on their new land. And they managed to earn enough profit to buy another eight acres.

“We were so happy when we go our land. Now, things are so different”, said Sodhi. “Whenever we want to eat anything, we can just buy it. Before, we used to eat dal and potatoes. Now we can buy all sorts of things – mangos, even chicken.”

“Everyday, we have a lot of food. It’s like a festival of food for us every time!” she said, laughing.

http://www.oxfamblogs.org/southasia/?p=1088

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report by Oxfam's Caroline Gluck posted on Reliefweb:

Pakistan did not carry out essential land reforms soon after independence. As a result, critics say, Pakistan's agricultural and rural sectors are characterised by highly feudal relationships which keep many in abject poverty, including bonded labour. It's estimated that more than 60% of farmers in Sindh are landless, while vast tracts of farmland are still owned by small wealthy elites who wield huge political and social influence.

Sindh's land distribution programme is a bold step forward. For the first time in Pakistan as well as South Asia, state land is being specifically distributed to landless women peasants, in an attempt to begin reducing poverty and bringing about much wider social changes in rural areas.

"It's very important for me to get land"

When I visited the packed kutchari, or open hearing, it was bustling with activity. Many women and their families had traveled in vans organised by Participatory Development Initiatives (PDI), a local partner supported by Oxfam, to ensure as many deserving women as possible had the chance to register for land. PDI staff were also on hand to help those unable to read and write to fill out land application forms; and for weeks earlier had carried out awareness campaigns about the land distribution programme, including using local radio broadcasts.

"It's very important for me to get land," said mother of four, Janat, who currently farms on four acres of land belonging to her landlord. Her family only receive a quarter of the crops they cultivate - the landlord takes the rest.

"We want land of our own to pass on to our children; to have our own house and not live with threats or the fear of having to move. A landlord can ask us to leave at any time," she explained.

Another lady, Sakina, who traveled with her six-year-old son, chipped in. "Security is a priority for us. If we own land, we will have a safe house; no corrupt people can snatch our crops from us... There are always threats from influential people who can take the land from us."

----

The second phase of distribution is now solely targeting landless women. It hopes to iron out many of the flaws in the original process, as well as offering women longer-term packages of agricultural support including providing seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and technical help.

Faisal Ahmed Uqaili, co-ordinator of Sindh government's Land Distribution Programme, acknowledges that about 50% of the original land allocated had proved problematic. But he says that lessons have been learnt and around 80% of cases have been settled. Officials were also under strict orders to ensure greater transparency, he says, to stop nepotism and corruption. There had been cases reported of officials trying to sell application papers to the women, or grant land to people favoured by influential political leaders.

"You need to say the glass is half full instead of half-empty," Faisal told me. "When you meet these success stories, women are now making a livelihood for their husbands and families. There is a marked difference. If change is coming in the life of the people for this allotted land and for a fairly large percentage of people, then it's the start of success."

Mother-of-seven Beebul Hassan's face lights up as she holds up a slip of paper with a signature showing that she's been successful in her application. She is now the proud owner of four acres of land.


http://reliefweb.int/node/357648

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Daily Times report on Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) in Pakistan:

The Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) is ready to share its experiences with the world, especially with the poverty stricken Asian nations, so that the menace of poverty can be eradicated from the region and the goal of mutual growth and prosperity can be achieved, BISP Chairperson Farzana Raja ssaid on Thursday. She stated this while speaking to Asian Development Bank (ADB) Executive Director Siraj Shamas ud Din, who called on her at the BISP Secretariat in Islamabad.

Farzana also apprised the ADB Executive Director of the various components of BISP and the progress made by the programme in the last three years. According to her, the activities of BISP have helped to bring about positive economic changes in the lives of its beneficiaries. She told the visiting ADB official that BISP had launched various strategies which provide interest free micro financing, demand driven vocational and technical training, along with a Life Insurance Scheme, which helps families become self-reliant.

Farzana Raja also informed the ADB executive director of an initiative by BISP for increasing school enrolment in the poverty-hit areas of the country, using a system known as the Conditional Cash Transfer. This would provide free education to the children of beneficiary families, thus helping to bring out a positive social change within the country.

The ADB executive director appreciated the efforts of BISP regarding poverty alleviation and was of the view that ADB’s current assistance to BISP, amounting to $150 million, was being properly utilised by the programme.

Shamas ud Din informed Farzana that various countries in the region were interested in observing the methods and procedures adopted by BISP so that they could implement similar social safety nets for the eradication of poverty. Farzana agreed to share BISP’s expertise and support with such countries of the region as may be recommended by the ADB. Shamas ud Din also called the Scorecard Survey being carried out by BISP throughout Pakistan to identify deserving beneficiaries a remarkable achievement.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\07\08\story_8-7-2011_pg7_24

Mayraj said...

Of course its is better than being landless. But that is not the issue. When next flood comes ad there wter is uderwtare, will they have money to help themselves?

Riaz Haq said...

Mayraj,

Would they not suffer in future floods if they have no land?

Mayraj said...

Only if land based. Besides landless laborers have used the flood to free themselves from landlords-as indicated by article in the Nation that I shared.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an assessment by Haris Guzdar and Julian Quan of link between landlessness and rural poverty in Pakistan:

Landlessness consistently comes up as one of the most important correlates of income poverty in statistical and econometric analyses of poverty-related data in Pakistan. The World Bank’s Pakistan Poverty Assessment used data from the Pakistan Integrated Household Survey (PIHS) 1998-99 to show that the head-count ratio of
poverty among the rural landless was 40.3 per cent, while for those owning land it was 28.9 per cent. Even the owners of marginal holdings of less than one acre had a head-count ratio of 31.8 per cent – or 8.5 per cent points lower than that of the
landless.20 These findings are corroborated by the Participatory Poverty Assessment which identifies land ownership and access to land as being among the primary determinants of rural poverty.21 Besides its direct impact on agricultural livelihoods, the distribution of land ownership in Pakistan also had broader economic, social and political implications for poverty. The existence of monopolistic landlords was thought to be associated with the creation of monopolistic conditions in other markets – such as those for credit, water, inputs and outputs – and thus created uneven conditions. Furthermore, locally
monopolistic landlords were thought to adversely affect the quality of governance of
public institutions, including mechanisms for political accountability.


http://www.rspn.org/publications/Microsoft%20Word%20-%20Access%20to%20Land%20&%20Poverty%20Reduction%20in%20South%20East%20Asia.pdf

Riaz Haq said...

USAID has launched a "Women In Trade" initiative in Pakistan, according to Business Recorder:

ISLAMABAD: In conjunction with several multinational firms, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) is launching the Women in Trade Initiative to increase the participation of Pakistani women in the international trade sector.

“This initiative is part of the United States’ commitment to the people of Pakistan to support women’s empowerment,” said Dr. Marilyn Wyatt, wife of US Ambassador Cameron Munter, at the launch of the Women in Trade Initiative, says a press release received here on Tuesday.

“By raising the role of women in the international trade sector, we can enable them to contribute not only to Pakistan’s economy, but to the overall development of the country.”

Under this initiative, USAID has arranged three-month internships for 17 female university graduates with well-known companies such as TARGET Sourcing Services Pakistan, TEXLYNX, NISHAT Group, and Li & Fung Pakistan.

These women will gain skills in sourcing and marketing of products, product development and diversification and supply chain management.

The international trade sector in Pakistan currently employs very few women in managerial positions.

A recent USAID-funded study has shown women comprise less than 10 percent of management and 20 percent of junior staff in trade companies.

The Women in Trade initiative will work to set up linkages between international firms and local universities so that more women have opportunities to explore careers in international trade.

The USAID-funded initiative will also help companies select the best-suited male and female university graduates for training and potential future recruitment.


http://www.brecorder.com/pakistan/business-a-economy/19935-usaid-launches-women-in-trade-initiative-in-pakistan.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from an interesting Op Ed by Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi published by The News:

At a time when daunting problems of security, a weakening economy, crippling energy shortages, inadequate public services and an exploding population are blighting the country’s future, no policy thinking is going on within or among parties about appropriate strategies to deal with any of these.

Instead the preoccupation is with politicking, power plays and deal making for the campaign season ahead, which will start with the senate elections in March 2012. There is little or no focus on issues except in terms of vacuous platitudes or slogans, and virtually no debate on national policies even as parties gear up for another round of electoral politics.

Why is there such a disconnect between politics and policy, between challenge and response and between multiplying problems and the solutions needed to fix them?

The answer lies – in large part – in the persisting nature of Pakistan’s politics that has undergirded both civilian and military rule. The defining character of such politics is that it pivots around patronage and operates principally on the basis of patron-client structures that tie politics to a web of hierarchal relations and obligations rather than to a world of citizens, rights and policy.

This form of politics rests on working a spoils system rather than responding to the needs of the people. Political competition is about gaining access to the spoils of office and its distribution among supporters. Patronage not policy is the driving force.
---
Certain types of social structures give rise to networks of relationships of obligation and patronage. The personalised nature of Pakistan’s politics is closely related to the dominant position enjoyed throughout its history by a narrowly based power elite that was feudal in origin and remained so in outlook even as it gradually came to share power with well to do urban groups. While different in social origin and background, members of the ‘newer’ power elite shared a similar ‘feudal-tribal’ style of conducting politics: personalised, based on working ‘biradari’ or clan networks, characterised by patronage-seeking activity and focused on protecting and advancing their economic interests and privileged status.

Seen from this perspective, ‘feudal’ attitudes reinforced by a social system of biradari and tribal alignments have long spilled into and influenced Pakistan’s urban politics. This has expressed itself in patron-client forms of representative politics.

Even urban members of many parties function much like their rural counterparts, in that their efforts at political mobilisation rests more on working lineage and biradari cleavages and alliances than representing wider urban interests.

Politics embedded in these structures are more oriented to patronage than to issues of policy. When parties become extensions of personalities, influential families, clans and biradaris, the focus is not issue-based politics, but what promotes or cements their ‘clientelist’ networks of support and bolsters their privileged positions.

Electoral competition becomes principally about gaining control of state patronage to cement patron-client relationships and reward supporters. Politics and governance becomes more about leveraging the spoils system than framing policies. Political contests are rarely about issues but reflect a tussle over the privileges and resources that power confers.
---------
To align governance to public purpose, the basis of politics must change – away from patronage and towards policy and professionalism in managing the country’s affairs.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting review of Anatol Lieven's book "Pakistan-A Hard Country" by Ahmad Ali Khalid published in Dawn newspaper:

Pakistan is hence not a “failed state’’, but it’s not democratic either. In many ways, it is not a modern nation-state at all, but a social conglomeration defined by the ideals of patronage and kinship. It is this durable socio-economic glue that has kept Pakistan going over the last 63 years. It is not a state in the modern sense at all but awkwardly combines the deep rooted customs of patronage politics with the outer trappings of a democracy. Democracy isn’t a philosophy of life in the country because that space for social deliberation and political negotiation is taken up by pre-modern paradigms of negotiation and conflict resolution. There is no space for democracy in the Pakistani public sphere, not because of radicalism but because of traditionalism.

Pakistani policy makers are in a fix. Advocating reforms of traditionalist feudal structures may pave the way for liberalisation, but as Lieven warns, it may opena Pandora’s box where provincial nationalism ultimately fragments and breaks up any hope of a universal Pakistani narrative. The clientele of the feudal lords to the authority of the Pakistani state is paramount to its continued existence.

Furthermore, the appeal of the Islamist parties does not stem from deep theological commitment to the political project of the “Islamic state’’. On the contrary, it is actually the deep seated aggravations and frustrations with the fragile and anaemic civic, juridical and political organs of the nation’s nascent democracy. It is the failure of the westernised “liberals’’ of Pakistan through their acquiescing to the feudal leadership that has created a space for Islamist protest.

The theocratic Islamist project is one born out of protest, frustration, alienation and anxiety — it is an ideology of “resistance’’. In the words of Khaled Abou El Fadl it is “an orphan of modernity’’ that struggles to find certainty and justice in the messy aftermath of colonialism. In this respect Alaistair Cooke’s study, Resistance — The Essence of Islamist Revolution complements Lieven’s work on this topic.

In many ways Lieven argues that Pakistan is closer to 18th century Europe in terms of its political culture rather than Somalia. Pakistan’s socio-political conservativism also provides the foundations of economic transactions. The resources of the state are not redistributed through modern means, such as welfare politics, as in Europe for instance, but through the same traditional institutions that have loomed large over sub-continental life over the last few hundred years. But stagnation has set in — the landowners of Sindh have kept such monopolistic control over politics that any hope for the emergence of creative enterprise or economic liberalisation is squashed in the rural hinterland. The big landowners are perhaps the most serious obstacle to democratisation, universal education and other cherished virtues of meaningful politics.

The challenge for Pakistan is to develop a distinctly indigenous and organic discourse of democracy that reconciles the conflicting political psychologies at play when operating in a democratic framework and in a feudal framework. But such suggestions in the past have come only from dictators and never from elected representatives.

The challenges, Lieven mentions, are not unique to Pakistan but are rather symptomatic of the post-colonial experience. In fact, the most grievous challenges to Pakistan’s social organisation do not emanate from Islamists but from the brutish forces of mother nature itself. Lieven writes that, “Over the next century, the possible long-term combination of climate change, acute water shortages, poor water infrastructure and steep population growth has the potential to wreck Pakistan as an organised state and society’’.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Times piece on linking BISP to primary schooling of children:

The cash transfer under the scheme would be linked with school-going children of beneficiary families. The scheme will be the latest addition in the various innovative measures of BISP, including demand driven vocational/technical training along with the provision of micro-financing to ensure livelihood independence for millions of beneficiary families.

Analysis of the data collected through a nationwide poverty survey by BISP reveals that primary education of beneficiaries’ children is one of the major issues of the poor class in Pakistan. A careful evaluation of the data revealed that only 17 percent of BISP beneficiaries send all of their children (between the age of 4 to 10 years) to school, 27 percent of them send some of their children to school, whereas 56 percent do not send any of their children to school. In terms of numbers, more than 5 million children of BISP beneficiaries, between the ages of 4 to 10 years, do not attend any school. The future of millions of these children is in our hands; we can make them productive citizens in the world by providing them with decent educational opportunities; otherwise, sans education, they would become nothing but an easy prey for the cruel forces of extremism, intolerance and terrorism, which are unfortunately competing with the forces of reason in our country.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\10\22\story_22-10-2011_pg7_20

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on Benazir Income Support Program:

ISLAMABAD: The Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) has proved to be highly effective programme for poverty alleviation and women empowerment considering its efficiency, technology based operations and transparency; the programme ought to be replicated in the other countries of the world as well.

According to a press release, Michal Rutkowski, Director Human Development South Asian Region, World Bank, said this during a meeting with Federal Minister and Chairperson of BISP, Farzana Raja while heading a delegation here at BISP Secretariat Wednesday.

Rutkowski said that the World Bank is proud of working with organization like BISP and appreciates its performance and reliability. While taking special interest in vocational training scheme of BISP, he said that the corporate sector and foreign employers may also invest in this particular initiative.

He termed Waseela-e-Taleem initiative of BISP, instrumental in the promotion of education, as similar initiatives have been proved successful in the other countries as well.

Earlier, Farzana Raja presented details of various initiatives of BISP for uplifting the living standards of millions of poor families across Pakistan. She said that one million out of school children of these poor families will be enrolled in the schools under Waseela-e-Taleem.

She said that BISP has employed state of the art technology in all of its mechanisms to facilitate its beneficiary in a more efficient and transparent manner. Farzana Raja said that BISP is seeking cooperation from various public and private organizations of the world working in the social sector to continue its various initiatives aiming at poverty alleviation in an effective manner.

She added further that BISP needs support of the World Bank for marketing BISP in the world especially for replication of such experiences in the other countries.


http://www.onlinenews.com.pk/details.php?id=185387

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times story about soil renewal for agriculture in Pakistan:

LAHORE, PAKISTAN — In the Pakistani village of Sharbaga, about 130 kilometers from Lahore, a 70-year-old farmer named Mohammed Ali and his wife plant rice seedlings in a wide field. They stand ankle-deep in muddy water holding thin green leaves that they deftly press into the ground. It is hard work under a blazing sun, but this seemingly mundane task is a significant development that can help rural Pakistanis improve their lives.

Just a few years ago, this rice paddy and most of the surrounding fields in this village of 5,000 were barren. For decades the land has lain fallow because it is saline from poor groundwater.

In 2006, the government of the state of Punjab, traditionally Pakistan’s breadbasket, and the United Nations Development Program started an agriculture project to rehabilitate saline farmland by treating it with gypsum. The Punjab government pays for two-thirds of the project’s six-year, $17 million budget, while the U.N. program pays for the rest.

Nearly six million hectares, or about 15 million acres, across Pakistan, including 2.3 million hectares in Punjab, are barren because of salinity and water logging. Gypsum’s calcium composition can neutralize saline soil. Within a season of applying the white powder, farmers like Mr. Ali had transformed a long-degraded land into a field that yielded bountiful crops of rice and wheat.

Forty-three percent of Pakistan’s population of 170 million depends on agriculture for their livelihood and two-thirds of the country’s citizens live in rural areas. Projects that help improve the lives of people on the ground are critical to creating stability in Pakistan, and yet these are often overlooked.

Sustainable agricultural growth is a “necessary condition for rural growth, employment generation, poverty reduction and social stability,” said a 2009 report on Pakistan’s agricultural potential by Weidemann Associates, an economic development consulting firm near Washington. The report was prepared for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Pakistan.

The biosaline project in Punjab has already helped lift 50,000 households out of poverty by raising incomes. From 2007 to 2010, the increase of rice and wheat production on rehabilitated land totaled 417,016 tons, worth $122 million.

Dozens of enthusiastic farmers who gathered to meet a visitor to Sharbaga this past summer were unequivocal about how the agriculture project had improved their lives. Before the project, there were few ways to make money in the village aside from sporadic manual labor. Farmers owned small parcels of largely infertile land, and most of the men migrated to cities for work in factories or as temporary laborers.

Now, all the men said their farming incomes had double or tripled, to as much as $230 a month, compared with the $90 or less that they could earn working in a factory, and migration to the cities is declining.
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Reviving agriculture has been life-changing for many rural Pakistanis. Zeba Bibi, who also cultivates a garden in Liliani village, wants to know how she can make her mango trees healthier and more productive. She aspires to one day buy a tractor with extra income from crops grown on her family’s desalinated land. “We are looking forward to a better life,” she said.


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/17/business/energy-environment/soil-renewal-puts-pakistans-poor-on-stronger-ground.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's some info on Nestle's rural entrepreneurship program in Pakistan:

The Small Entrepreneur Development Project was launched in March 2009 from a partnership between Nestlé Pakistan Ltd. (as implementing partner) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) which has co-funded the project. Its aim is to contribute to the improvement of economic opportunities, income generation and food security in rural areas of the country. Livestock and dairy farmers are provided with training and assistance to both enhance their skills as small entrepreneurs and improve their market linkages. Training is provided through the Nestlé Agricultural Services in the location of training farms specially dedicated to the project.





Current dairy farming constraints


The livestock and dairy sector represent 11% of Pakistan's GDP. There are 10 million farming families and 50 million cattle heads in Pakistan, out of which 7 million farming families (approx 35 million people) live in the Punjab Province. Many of them are landless farmers.



The lack of sustainability of dairy farming in Punjab is due to the lack of training and skills, poor infrastructure, poor breeds, lack of good fodder management, lack of support mechanisms for the farmers, lack of financial services and expertise in running small enterprises.



It is then no surprise that there are no commercial dairy farms or formal dairy farming structures in Pakistan. The majority of these farmers are domestic dairy farmers with only 2 to 3 cows or buffalos.



All this amounts to poverty driven farmers, no socio-economic growth in the dairy sector, poor living conditions and very low social standing, particularly for women. 48% of the farmers are women. As part of their domestic chores, they care for the livestock but are not socially acknowledged for these services and are kept out of the decision making processes. Hence there is a strong need to initiate a development programme targeted specifically at the women which the Nestlé-UNDP Partnership Programme tackles with great success (see specific project description).



While the demand for milk and meat is growing by 5%, the actual supply increase represents less than 2% per annum. There is a large potential for farmers to play a positive role in the development of the dairy sector in Pakistan's economy. Regretfully, very few initiatives provide farmers with livestock and dairy training at the grass root level which could strongly link rural development to economic growth....
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Nestlé Pakistan has established the training facility over 103 acres of leased land as an investment for the development of the dairy sector and to work towards sustainable farming and an improved rural economy - benefiting the farmers through increased prosperity and food security. Furthermore, this win-win community development model is designed to sustain itself in the following manner: Institutional linkages with the Government departments and financial institutions once established will sustain beyond the life of the project; capacities of the farmers once built shall yield economic benefits and further contribute to generate employment; training modules developed and tested by Nestlé Agri-Services will continue to be used beyond the life of the project.


http://www.community.nestle.com/rural-development/asia/pakistan/Pages/small-entrepreneur-development-project.aspx

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AP report on Benazir Income Support program in Pakistan:

Clutching photocopied ID cards in bony fingers, a roomful of Pakistan's poorest women sit on gray plastic chairs and wait in silence for something many have never experienced: a little bit of help from the government.

It comes in the form of a debit card that is topped up with the equivalent of $30 every three months, enough to put an extra daily meal on the table, buy a school uniform or pay for medical treatment in a country where soaring food and fuel costs are hurting millions who already live hand-to-mouth.

The program is something of a success story for a government widely seen as corrupt and inefficient, as well as for international donors that help implement and fund it. But the very need for the scheme highlights the poverty stalking a country whose stability is seen as key to the fight against Islamist extremism.

Other cash-transfer programs in Pakistan have been plagued by graft and allegations that only supporters of the party in power received the funds. Many feared this program, named after Benazir Bhutto, the late wife of President Asif Ali Zardari, would go the same way.

But that hasn't happened, at least not significantly. The Benazir Income Support Programme is modeled on similar efforts in Africa and South America, part of a quiet revolution in the way countries and development agencies are helping the poor. Initial concerns that recipients would fritter away the money have proven unfounded, and giving cash is now accepted as a vital and cost-effective aid tool.

"I spend the money on my kids, what else would I do?" said Rifat Parveen, a mother of five who sometimes has to serve only bread and boiled chili peppers for the evening meal. "Even if a poor person gets 10 rupees (5 cents), he or she will be grateful."

When a woman is called, she goes to a room where her identity is checked against an electronic database and her thumb print taken electronically. A bank employee then gives her the card — and a crash course in how to use it — before she returns to her village.

As they do elsewhere in the world, women in Pakistan must receive the money on behalf of their families because research shows they spend it more responsibly than men do. They must also first obtain a valid identity card to be eligible. Both requirements have been credited with pushing women, discriminated against in Pakistan, a little into the mainstream.


http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/04/17/in-pakistan-welfare-scheme-shows-signs-success/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a special CNN report on a Pakistani village by Wajahat Ali:

This is a story affecting millions of Pakistanis — and it does not involve suicide bombings, honor killings, extremism or President Zardari's mustache.

"What would you like to be when you grow up?" I asked Sakafat, a boisterous 12-year-old girl, while visiting a remote Pakistani village in the Sindh province.

"A scientist!" she immediately replied. "Why can't we be scientists? Why not us?"

The confident Sakafat lives in Abdul Qadir Lashari village, which is home to 500 people in Mirpur Sakro. It is in one of the most impoverished regions of Pakistan.

There was a characteristic resilience and optimism in this particular village. This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows anything about Pakistan's often dysfunctional, surreal yet endearing daily existence.

The 500 villagers live in 48 small huts, except for the one "wealthy" family who recently built a home made of concrete. The village chief, Abdul Qadir Lashari, proudly showed off his village's brand-new community toilets, paved roads, and water pump that brings fresh water to the village.

These simple, critical amenities, taken for granted by most of us in the West, resulted from the direct assistance of the Rural Support Programmes Network, Pakistan's largest nongovernmental organization. RSPN has worked with thousands of similar Pakistani villages to help them achieve economic self-sufficiency.

I visited the Sindh village with RSPN to witness the results of using community organizing to alleviate poverty. The staff told me its goal was to teach villagers to "fish for themselves."

Every household in the Abdul Qadir Lashari village was able to reach a profit by the end of 2011 as a result of professional skills training, financial management, community leadership workshops and microloans.

Specifically, a middle-aged, illiterate woman proudly told me how she learned sewing and financial management and was thus able to increase her household revenue, manage her bills, and use a small profit to purchase an extra cow for the family. She was excited to introduce me to her cow, but sadly due to lack of time I was unable to make the bovine acquaintance.
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Asked what single thing she felt was most important most for her village, she replied education. Upon asking another elderly lady what she wishes for Pakistan, she repeated one word three times: "sukoon," which means peace.

When it was time to depart, the people of the village presented me with a beautiful handmade Sindhi shawl, an example of the craftwork the villagers are now able to sell for profit.

As I left the village with the dark red, traditional Sindhi shawl adorned around my neck, my thoughts returned to the 12-year-old girl, Sakafat, who passionately asked why she couldn't become a scientist.

I looked in her eyes and could only respond with the following: "You're right. You can be anything you want to be. And I have every confidence you will, inshallah ("God willing"), reach your manzil ("desired destination").

By focusing on education and local empowerment to lift the next generation out of poverty, Sakafat's dream could indeed one day become a reality for all of Pakistan.


http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/13/world/asia/pakistan-empowerment/index.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET Op Ed on history of land rights and politics in Pakistan:

The extraction of rural surplus from the Indian subcontinent enabled the Mughals to fund empire building opulence and warfare through an increasingly sophisticated land administration system. Peasant revolts against this exploitation were identified as one of the reasons for the downfall of the Mughals. Under the historic mansabdari system, however, agrarian tillers were at least rooted to the land they cultivated since mansabdars appointed above them were state representatives designated to collect revenues from land, which essentially belonged to the empire — rather than to mansabdars themselves.

The British desire to fuel industrialisation in England through boosting cash cropping in its colonies led to experimentation with provision of private property rights in the subcontinent based on the presumption that this would incentivise productivity and investment in agriculture. Sidestepping the poor rural populace, the British preferred giving land rights to the upper peasantry. Moreover, the colonial government gave titles and land grants to ‘noblemen’ willing to recognise their authority and the British Raj also began using land for inducing military recruitment and breeding horses for the cavalry, under the ghora paal (horse breeding) scheme. Economic historians have identified this latter colonial policy of using land for military purposes as setting the stage for the growing influence of the military in the country’s political economy.

Unlike India, landlords with large landholdings dominated the Muslim League and continued to sabotage effective land reforms in the country. Over time, landholding interests not only pervaded the establishment but also acquired industrial interests. It is thus not uncommon for large landed Pakistani families to have family members in the national and provincial parliaments serving as senior bureaucrats and army officials, as well as owning sugar and cotton mills.

A political economy perspective further sheds light on broader configuration of production relations at both national and global levels. The IMF and the World Bank have actively sought to influence agricultural production processes and policies through liberalisation of the agricultural sector — in developing countries which receive their loans — in a bid to integrate them into a global trade regime.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/412073/the-political-economy-of-land-in-pakistan/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a recent Khatmandu speech by Pak social scientist Arif Hasan:

.. ...In my city, Karachi, anyone my age will similarly tell you how wonderful Karachi used to be...the calm that we enjoyed was really like the peace of the dead. It was a kind of peace made possible by the feudal system.
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I asked an elder from the taluka whom I had met in 1983, now much older, “Sahib, did you have honour killings before?”

He said, “Yes, we used to have one in perhaps ten years. It was a rare occurrence, and we would discuss one for ten years until another happened.”

“Then why it is happening now with such regularity?”

He said, “Now, everyone has become shameless, without honour, so honour killings are taking place.”

I asked, “Why is there no honour today?”

He responded, “The young people, they’ve gone to the city, and they’ve done all the wrong things. The girls have learned how to read and write, they’ve gone to school, some of them have gone to university as well. They have no morals left, so this is bound to happen.”

“You mean this is going to continue like this forever?”

“No, no, it will stop!”

“How and when will it stop?”

His reply was educative: “The honour killings will stop when everyone becomes shameless, then it will end.” Then he added, “But I hope that I die before that day.”

He was a man of the old, feudal rural culture, with its own pattern of behaviour and way of thinking. He was part of it, and it was dying, so he wished to die with it.

In 1992, the applications for court marriages in Karachi amounted to about 10 or 15, mainly applications from couples who were seeking the protection of the court for wedlock without familial consent. By 2006, we were seeing more than 250 applications for court marriages per day in Karachi. Significantly, more than half of the couples seeking court recognition of their betrothal came from rural areas of Sindh. This is yet another indication of how the entire feudal system and its values are in rapid collapse.

This collapse is also heralded by the advances in women’s education. According to 2006 figures, fully 72 percent of the University of Karachi student body is today female. Among medical students, 87 percent are women, and the figure for architecture and planning is as high as 92 percent. In fact, our vice chancellor was so concerned that he suggested a quota for men. I used to teach a class with one boy and 15 girls. That has changed a little now as we have tried to even it out. But the reason is simply that women do better on the entrance tests. There’s no other reason for it.

In 1971, I started working in low-income settlements in Karachi, and a decade later I joined the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP). The settlements that we worked in at that time were primarily working-class, and when we went over we were met by older men who were mostly illiterate. They spoke to us in very formal, feudal language – janaab, huzoor, sahib, miyan, “We are all your children and need your protection,” and all that. At that time, in the 1980s, the women hardly worked. Things are entirely different when you go to the OPP today; it’s not what you would call a shanty settlement. It’s mostly the younger generation who will meet you, and they will address you as ‘uncle’ rather than ‘sahib’. The people you meet are bank managers, school teachers, professionals working in the service sector of Karachi.
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... The recent shooting of Malala Yusufzhai has shown what Pakistani society really feels and how it thinks on issues. For the first time the Pakistani establishment – the army as well as the three major political parties – have all condemned the Taliban for the shooting. The people have spoken in the huge rallies, in Karachi and elsewhere. ...


http://himalmag.com/component/content/article/5126-the-eclipse-of-feudalism-in-pakistan.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Frontier Post piece on USAID helping dairy sector in Pakistan:

The USAID Dairy Project has spurred growth in Pakistan’s rural economy by helping women farmers increase their incomes and improve their livelihoods.

Realizing the pivotal role rural women play in Pakistan’s livestock sector, USAID is creating a pool of up to 5,000 locally-trained and readily-available female livestock extension workers to provide veterinary services and advice on the care and feeding of cattle to rural dairy farmers. The project also meets farmers’ basic needs by providing them with quality supplies for their animals, such as feed, vitamins, and medication.

The USAID Dairy Project is a catalyst to create new jobs and improve rural livelihoods in Pakistan. “My husband used to work at a private school, but he had to quit his job because of an illness. Now he is unemployed. I was educated through the 12th grade, but I could not find a job,” said Asma, a resident of Toba Tek Singh in Punjab.

“I was worried about my husband’s health and the fact that I couldn’t do anything for my children’s future even though I am educated. I couldn’t sleep at night. But then I heard about this USAID project. I am happy to say that I am now working in my village as a livestock extension worker, providing basic animal healthcare services in my village.”

USAID’s Dairy Project, launched in July 2011, selects dynamic rural women with a high school diploma and trains them in basic animal health management techniques and entrepreneurship. The program has already trained 2,470 unemployed rural women, helping them earn an average of 2,500 rupees per month. It aims to train an additional 2,530 farmers.

“I am advising people in my village about how to improve milk production,” Asma added. “This USAID project has connected us with livestock experts and pharmaceutical companies we didn’t know about before. So far, I have treated around 600 animals and earned 46,000 rupees. Now, our household is prosperous and my sick husband is getting treatment. I am also re-investing in my own agriculture business.”

Naazra, another beneficiary of the project and a resident of Cheechawatnee, was trained as a livestock extension worker and is now successfully running her own business supplying concentrated feed to local dairy farmers.

“USAID trainers introduced me to a quality manufacturer of cattle feed and gave me a mobile phone so I could easily contact suppliers and customers. I have earned 30,000 rupees in three months by selling quality feed. I used the money to develop my business and meet the basic needs of my family. I even bought a refrigerator, which has been very useful for the summer season.”

These women represent a symbol of change and are a testimony to the fact that careful interventions, designed based on community needs, can truly transform rural livelihoods. Women like Aasma and Naazra are helping to modernize Pakistan’s dairy sector in line with international practices.

The dairy and livestock sectors contribute about 11 percent to the gross domestic product of Pakistan. Forty-five percent of Pakistanis are employed in the agricultural sector. Most dairy farmers have only two to three cattle, and few have access to veterinary services that are crucial to improving milk yields.

Dairy farming is vital for the rural economy of Pakistan, and USAID’s extensive training programs for dairy farmers, women livestock extension workers, and artificial insemination technicians will continue to play an important role in transforming livelihoods in rural communities...


http://www.thefrontierpost.com/article/13010/