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Pakistan:the plight of Agriculture workers

Pakistan: the plight of the agriculture workers

We have received this report from the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign (PTUDC) on the terrible conditions faced by one of the most downtrodden sectors, the agricultural labourers. The PTUDC is taking a courageous stand in their campaign to organise them into a union.

Pakistan has 196.63 million acres of land, but only 52.21 million acres of this is available for cultivation. Besides these, 9.04 million acres of forest are spread over the country. According to the Pakistan Land Commission's 1972 report, 600 feudal families own land which is equal to 30 million tillers and peasants while 7.1 million acres of land are under the control of 3000 landlords. This shows the historical failure of the Pakistani ruling class to develop Pakistani society. Its vital economic base, agriculture, is in ruins. It has failed to eradicate feudalism and build an infrastructure capable of revolutionising agricultural production.

There are 4 million landless farmers working the land of the landlords and they work it on the basis that they get back only a 30 percent share of the total production. The prices of fertilizers, seeds, pesticides, agricultural machinery have risen by up to 200 percent in the last ten years. So these poor farmers are suffering terribly due to the atrocities of their landlords. These landlords, like the industrialists, put all the burden of their losses onto the shoulders of the small farmers and poor peasants. Most of these agricultural workers live below the poverty line. In lower Sindh there are more than one million agricultural labourers working on a casual basis. These poor farmers get loans from the landlords. These accumulate over time as they have high interest rates and after generations of this the repayment of the debt becomes impossible. Hence they and their families are bonded to the landlords. These farmers are therefore living a life chained up and kept in their own private jails.

The government of Pakistan is deaf to these human rights violations. There are in fact huge violations of the Tenancy Act and other laws and regulations of the country; but there is no court to hear these cases because these feudal lords are financially, politically, and socially very strong and influential. There is no authority to challenge them. These farmers are not allowed to get involved in any trade union activities.

These millions of agricultural workers are very poor, they earn less than half a dollar per day per family, and hence these agricultural workers are turning into beggars. These workers are deprived of basic facilities like health, food, clothes, education, water and homes etc. Their women are raped by the landlords and their thugs. Their children have no access to any education. These agricultural workers and their families are deprived of any medical treatment or health facilities. The children are malnourished and access to clean water and sanitation beyond the dreams of these poor souls.

The PTUDC has launched a campaign to organize these agricultural workers. It has been initially started in the Sindh and the Southern Punjab. We are trying to launch the AWO (Agricultural Workers' Organization) in order to defend them against the atrocities of the landlords and to fight for the rights and demands of these workers and poor peasants and their families.

We are now also in a position to raise these questions in the Pakistani parliament, as the president of the PTUDC was recently elected as an MP. The agriculture workers and poor peasants in Kasur defied all odds and elected comrade Manzoor Ahmed against the landlords and the capitalists. This shows the enormous courage of these downtrodden agricultural labourers and their determination to fight and struggle for their rights.

We need the support of trade unions in Pakistan and internationally to succeed in these tasks.

An injury to one is an injury to all.
Workers of the world unite!

Report by Anwar Panhwar,
Organizer PTUDC Sindh,

March, 2003.

See also:

Workers of the world unite! Class war to defeat imperialist war! Asian Marxist Review, Spring 2003, Editorial Statement.

The PTUDC will struggle until the final victory. By Lal Khan, PTUDC International Secretary. (February 20, 2003)
Report of January 2003 PTUDC tour in Britain (January, 2003)
Pakistani Marxist MP, Manzoor Ahmed, speaks (January, 2003)
PTUDC on tour in Britain (January, 17 2003)
Comrade Manzoor takes oath with KARL MARX!

Pakistani Elections: no solution for the workers and peasants by J.Clyne (October 13, 2002)
Blatant vote-rigging in Pakistani elections stops one key left candidate being elected by J.Clyne (October 13, 2002)
Marxist MP elected to Parliament in Pakistan! (October 11, 2002)
Pakistan Elections 2002: Those who dare win! by Lal Khan. (September 23, 2002)
India and Pakistan - Millions threatened with a Nuclear Holocaust by Lal Khan. (June 3, 2002)
Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign
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