The eclipse of feudalism in Pakistan

  • An interesting take on transformation of Pakistani society after the Partition.

    "Feudalism was an integral part of the colonial system in what is today Pakistan. To understand the changing inter-community relations in Pakistan today, we must look at how the inherited colonial system has evolved. Every Pakistani will tell you how wonderful Pakistan used to be, what a peaceful country it was, with law and order and low levels of violence. And they tend to blame all that has gone wrong in Pakistan on the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan. But that is only part of the truth. In my city, Karachi, anyone my age will similarly tell you how wonderful Karachi used to be – there were discotheques and night clubs, there was drama, and film festivals. Certainly we had all that, but when you really come to think of it, 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.

  • Feudalism was abolished in India in 1952. That provided an open route of progress to India. With the passage of time, India transformed into a rich and powerful country. We were left far behind India becuase of our feudal system.

  • Well according to academic definition above posts are correct. But I have a definition of my own for feudalism specially in Pakistan.

    In my opinion every such person has feudal mentality who has contemptuous attitude for his fellow because of his self acclaimed superiority as Landlord, as industrialist, as employer, as boss, as rich, as more educated or more enlightened and so on.

    Keeping in view this definition feudal are not just found in big land holdings and jagirs but majority of feudal live in large cities like Karachi and Lahore. What do you think?

    Even bullies of this forum have feudal mentality.

  • Brother pakistani47

    The colonial system established by the British was meant for ruling over the subcontinent. The institutions like judiciary, civil service and army were established to cater to the needs of the British colonial government.

    The classes of peoples belonging to the institutions have the mindset of kala angreez. Feudal system was established to support their administrative colonial system. India abolished the feudal system in 1952 and thus the Indians freed their society from the system which was supporting the colonial administrative system. Their administrative system then was controlled by their elected democratic governmets.

    Today, our rival country India is standing as a rich and powerful country. I wish the abolition of feudal sytem could take place in the early history of Pakistan.

  • Dear Farooqi Sahib,

    I accept all statement made about traditional feudalism but I am talking about new form of feudalism that is feudalism of attitude and mentality as stated in my previous post.

  • @ Zia,

    Here is another interesting paper about feudalism.

    Land Reforms – History, Legal challenges and how Shariat Courts abolished them

    In the classical definition, land reform remains the re-distribution of land amongst small land owners by expropriating land from large land owners. In short, land reform has usually meant breaking up large land holdings and thereby changing the pattern of ownership of land in the country to prevent concentration of land – and ultimately wealth – in a select few hands.

    Concentration of land holdings in the hands of a select few creates a society where there are peculiar social economic and political consequences due to the institutional monopolization – more so in a primarily agrarian society like ours. Society becomes stratified, with inferior and superior strata on the basis of land ownership. By and large, the existence of such a system hampers social progress and landless peasants remain politically weak – therefore unable to seek solutions to the problems facing their existence. The concept of land reform arises from the fact that concentration of land is deemed as an undesirable to social and economic equality. For the purpose of brevity – a tenuous issue while dealing with such a big question – I shall leave the debate over productivity in large landholdings vs small holding. I am assuming that a large segment of readers are convinced that even higher productivity in large land holdings (mostly a mechanized agrarian result by the way) is not enough to allow concentration of land in a few hands.

    Anybody born in an urban middle class family is both ideologically and vocally opposed to feudalism. Feudalism, in the views of this select urban elite, is the single biggest problems that plagues social progress in this country. From illiteracy, to lack of healthcare to absence of social welfare and lack of rule of law, everything comes down to feudalism. While not necessarily wrong on certain issues, this is an extreme simplification that ignores changes in patterns of land holdings in the country and what feudalism means in an era of urbanization and modernity. In fact, the contract between the feudal (or landlord) and the peasant/tenant/share-cropper has evolved over the past 63 years and continues to change. Add to this the fact that we’re the most urbanized country in South Asia and we’re looking at a society very much different from that of the ‘50s and ‘60s. Contrary to popular perception, landlords cannot continue to suppress their subjects and still expect to remain politically popular

    Feudalism, in the form of large land holders having social, political and often local legal and religious power is a tribal notion that must be tackled appropriately. However, the power of the feudal has constantly withered away in a modernizing society – even if it has remained comparatively powerful in our country as compared to others.


    This is not a defence of feudalism, but rather a statement that it is a concept and problem skewed in the understanding of the urbaniites whose short term-ism and lack of intellectual rigor concerning social problems leads to redundant views that are distant from reality.


  • True Sir, mindsets evolve from the environment we live in. Even our educational system is based on colonial schooling. We have not changed any basics of ours. We need to revamp our educational system.

    After the 2nd. world war, the emperor of the surrendered army of Japan demanded no change on two things. One was the educational sytem and another was industrial struture. The emperor's wisdom made his country one of the most civilized and the richest countries of the world.

  • Correct Dear Sir,

    We have to fight that mindset everywhere not only with landlords but also with urban feudals.

    As far develpment of japan and Germany is concerned, they have such strong economies because they very minimal defence expenditures. Your point is also valid.

  • Hussain Farooqui you are the strongest propagator on elimination of Feudal system. I do agree with you. But the million dollar question is who will bell the cat. Have you any road map? If yes, please let us know. Mere saying feudal system should be abolished would not do any justice to the topic.

    Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto once implemented "land reforms", what happened thereafter? The feudal class converted their lands into hunting farms. Bhutto himself did the same for his lands. The twisting of fact killed the movement against feudalism. Another big hinderance is Islamic sharia. To initiate the Molvi class is the easiest thing for these feudal class. You will hear the shouting "usurping the ownership is against the spirit of Islam, it is pure communism".

    About India, the Nehru government had sufficient funds to compensate the landlords for conceding their lands. Pakistan, at this point in time, does not have a huge amount to compensate those landlords whose lands could be taken into pool for distribution among haris.

    If you can give us workable solution for abolition of feudalism, only then your point is strong otherwise your stand is a hollow stand.

  • My dear Friends

    Now I'm about to admit that it was a blunder to divide India.

    This is our Qabza mentality that will divide Pakistan again. Historically we are a 'nation' of qabza mentality which acts vigerously even in mosques and on this kind of debating frums, as well. Most of this kind of forums are being used and abused by some qabza mentality elements just to shut you up by every kind of tactics, blackmailing and insults of every kind. So, forget Pakistan forever. Hopefully I'll not have to say the same for my religion, as well.

  • ive been saying this for years.... and nobody believes it

  • gv

    I didn't get your message clearly. Could you please elaborate it.?


  • MQM is the only party that has a clear stance against Feudalism. But They are not trusted everywhere other than Urban Sindh. I wonder what is the stance of PTI on this. Never heard from them for any land reform or any Feudal tax. Feudalism is part and parcel for existence of PML(A-Z) and partially essential for PPP .

  • Justhuman

    You will never hear any from them, including Ik against any knd of feudals, for they themselves are such. yes, you are right MQM is the only party that is the acutest danger to them. I'm not surprise that them and their pawns are agains MQM so much.

  • @JA Khan,

    I was merely saying that i have made the same argument a few times before on this forum but most people will not agree this is the case. though i think all of them are city dwellers so have no idea.

  • جاگیر دارو ن کا حشر وہ ہونا چاہے جو ہٹلر نے یہودیوں کے ساتھ کیا ... ان کو گیس چمبرز میں جلا دینا چاہے

  • @ Fear,

    Neither I am jagirdar nor any sort of beneficiary of the system. However I would say from experience and exposure, I may be wrong, that they are in one way or other hinderance in complete destruction of our socio economic system.

  • پاکستانی پائی جی میں نے تو اپ کو پوسٹ پڑی ہی نہیں اور مجھ یہ بھی نہیں پتا تھا اپ نے اس تھریڈ میں پوسٹ کی ہیں ... .. ویسے میں نے اپ کو کچھ بھی نہیں کہا... یہ کیسے ہو سکتا ہے میں اپ کو کچھ کہوں ...

    ویسے ہی کبی کبی چول مارنے پہ دل کرتا ہے ...

    تھریڈ کا نام صرف پڑھا اور پوسٹ کر دیا

  • @ Fear,

    I have given you title of Ustad so you are entitled to take my class. hehehe.

    By the way I can see a naughty smile on your face while writing above post.

  • @Pakistani47

    What you are describing, most people will call elitism and not feudalism.Although all feudal are elitist but all elites are not feudal.

    I'm not sure if most of the commenters here have actually read the article or maybe I'm not fully understanding the author.

    I agree with him on his assertion that feudalism is slowly dissipating in our society partly due to education and the migration of land-owners to the cities and playing a lesser role as landlords.

    But then he blames education of women for causing shamelessness in society and honor-killings as a reaction to it.

    He states...

    " 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."""

    Here the author seems to justify feudalism as a protector of values.

    I didn't know what to make of it.

    The feudal have been a very convenient tool for the dictators in Pakistan.Personally, I think, given enough time democracy and education will eradicate this evil from our society.