Feudalism in Pakistan

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Pakistan has one of the highest incidences of slavery in the world, behind only Mauritania and Haiti.(Estimates from the Walk Free Foundation.)

The feudal archetype in Pakistan consists of landlords with large joint families possessing hundreds or even thousands of acres of land. They seldom make any direct contribution to agricultural production. Instead, all work is done by peasants or tenants who live at subsistence level. In Pakistan's remote areas of Sindh and Baluchistan province, one "periodically run[s] into vast estates — ] — sometimes even operates a private prison in which enemies are placed, and sometimes makes local people dependent through debt bondage, generation after generation."[1]

"The landlord, by virtue of his ownership and control of such vast amounts of land and human resources, is powerful enough to influence the distribution of water, fertilisers, tractor permits and agricultural credit and, consequently exercises considerable influence over the revenue, police and judicial administration of the area. Most of the Punjab, urban Sind and Khyber Pakhtonkhwah there no longer exists the agricultural feudal as harsh as it is described in the earlier lines.this situation only exists in rural Sind and some parts of Southern Punjab." [2]

Feudalism in Mughal Empire[edit]

Feudalism under colonial rule[edit]

Feudalism in independent Pakistan[edit]

Almost half of Pakistan's Gross National Product and the bulk of its export earnings are derived primarily from the agricultural sector controlled by a few thousand feudal families. Armed with a monopoly of economic power, they easily pre-empted political power.[citation needed]

To begin with, the Pakistan Muslim League, the party laying Pakistan's foundation in 1947, was almost wholly dominated by feudal lords such as the Zamindars, Rajas, Mahers, Chaudries, Jagirdars, Nawabs, Nawabzadas and Sardars, the sole exception being the Jinnahs. Pakistan's major political parties are feudal-oriented, and more than two-thirds of the National Assembly (Lower House) is composed of this class. Besides, most of the key executive posts in the provinces are held by them.[citation needed]

Through the '50s and the '60s the feudal families retained control over national affairs through the bureaucracy. Later on in 1971, they assumed direct power and retained it until the military regained power.[citation needed] Thus, any political observer can see that this oligarchy, albeit led by and composed of different men at different times, has been in power since Pakistan's inception.[original research?]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Nicholas D. Kristof. "Feudalism in Pakistan". The New York Times, 1 August 2009
  2. ^ Sharif Shuja. "The Sources of Pakistan's Insecurity". Contemporary Review, 22 June 2007.

Further reading[edit]

  • Ansari, Sarah. 1992. Sufi Saints and State Power: The Pirs of Sind, 1843-1947. Cambridge University Press.
  • Alavi, Hamza. 1980. "India: Transition from Feudalism to Colonial Capitalism." Journal of Contemporary India, 10, 359-399.
  • Cheesman, David. 1997. Landlord power and rural indebtedness in colonial Sind, 1865-1901. Routledge.
  • Coulborn, Rushton. 1968. "Feudalism, Brahmanism and the Intrusion of Islam upon Indian History." Comparative Studies in Society and History, vol. 10, no. 3 (April), 356-374.
  • Gopal, K. K. 1962. "Feudal Composition of Army in Early Medieval India." Journal of the Andhra Historical Research Society, 28.
  • Gopal, Lallanji. 1963. "On Some Problems of Feudalism in Ancient India." Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, 44, 1-32.
  • Habib, Irfan. 1974. "The Social Distribution of Landed Property in Pre-British India (a historical survey)." Historical Probings in Memory of D. D. Kosambi, 264-316. Editors R. S. Sharma, and V. Jha. New Delhi: Peoples Publishing House.
  • Herring, Ronald J. 1979. "Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the 'Eradication of Feudalism' in Pakistan". Comparative Studies in Society and History, 21, 519-557. doi:10.1017/S0010417500013165.
  • Mohmand, Shandana Khan & Gazdar, Haris. 2007. Social Structures in Rural Pakistan. Asian Development Bank.
  • Mukhia, Harbans. 1981. "Was there Feudalism in Indian History?" Journal of Peasant Studies, vol. 8, no. 3, 273-310.
  • Naim Ullah, Mohammed. 2003. Pakistan Under the Stranglehold of Feudalism (Pakistan Jagirdari Zamindari Nizam Ke Shikajije Men): A Nation Under the Agony of Fundamentalism. Rehmat Publications.
  • Pearson, Michael N. 1985. "Land, Noble and Ruler in Mughal India." In Feudalism: Comparative Studies, edited by Sir Edmund Leach, S.N. Mukherjee and John O. Ward, 175-196. Sydney: Sydney Studies in Society and Culture.

External links[edit]