Finance: The history of land ownership.

Soon after independence, one of the questions that attracted the attention of legislators was whether ownership of lands could be limited to a certain level or should there be no limit at all. The legislation was implemented but later failed.

Meanwhile, India achieved substantial success by abolishing the zamindari system. Following such reforms, 2.3 million acres were declared as surplus, and through this process, 1.3m acres were redistributed all over India.

Later, in 1959, reformative laws regarding the limitation of land ownership were introduced by Ayub Khan. Regarding irrigated and non-irrigated lands, 500 and 1,000 acres were set as the limit. The main issue with the proportionate application of these reforms was that their numbers were ordained for individuals rather than families.

This, in turn, facilitated the interests of landlords who distributed their ownership of lands to their real and factious family members and servants. It also enabled the landlords to retain their ceiling up to 36,000 Produce Index Units (PIUs).

PIU were introduced in the colonial era as a parameter to measure the gross value of output per acre. The problem with this parameter was the low gross value of output per acre, and that was because of the higher labour intensity and lack of machinery and technology in that era.

The religious-political economy of the country has led to the wealth and influence of the zamindars

As a result, the average area per declarant reached 11,810 and 7,028 acres in Punjab and Pakistan, respectively, in the 1959 reform. Through this process, the government could only collect an area of 1.9m acres (35 per cent of farmland). The government had to pay Rs89.2 million for the uncultivated land the landlords were not using.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto announced his land reforms on March 1, 1972. The reform was regulated under the Martial Law Regulation Act 115. According to the reform, 150 and 300 acres were set as limits for irrigated and non-irrigated lands, respectively. Later in his updated Land Reforms Ordinance, these limits were further reduced to 100 and 300 acres in 1977.

Its equivalent amount on the parameter was up to 12,000 PIUs. An additional bonus of 2,000 PIUs was granted to the owners of tractors and tube wells which enabled a de facto ceiling for landlords' properties. Due to outdated PIUs, the actual limits of Bhutto's reform were 466 and 560 acres for Punjab and Sindh, respectively.

Thus, the government could only collect...

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