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Land reforms means to break up large estates in small size for distribution to the farmers with or without payments. Land reform in the past was mainly carried primarily for equity and social justice. Now it is mainly carried out for increasing agricultural productivity as well as the income of the farmers. The main lend reforms introduced in Pakistan since 1947 are as follows;-

(1) Land Reform Proposals of Agrarian Committee 1948

The all Pakistan Muslim League the then most significant political party formed a Land Reform Committee in 1948 to examine the land tenure system and recommend suitable changes in it. The main recommendations were as under.

1. All the Jagirs as well as the proprietary rights of such land as awarded imams by the British Regime should be taken over by the Government without any compensation.

2. A landlord cannot have more than 150 acres of canal irrigated land, 300 acres of semi irrigated and 450 acres of barani land. The area in excess of the above limit, after being paid suitable compensation in lieu thereof should be distributed among the cultivators.

3. A legal recognition of the fact that occupancy tenants are the virtual owners of their cultivators.

4. Levying tax on farm income at par with non farm incomes.

5. Guarantee of adequate security of tenure to the tenants-at will which should not be less than 16 years in any case.

6. A landlord cannot have more than 25 acres of land for self-cultivation.

7. The share of tenant, out of total produce should be raised from 50% to 66%.

8. To check sub-division and fragmentation of holding, co-operative farming should be promoted.

The above recommendations of the Agrarian Reform Committee were appreciated.

The interested parties, however, stood in the way of their final approval. The recommendations were therefore shelved.

(2.) Land reforms of 1959

. Late Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan constituted a Commission of nine members to consider the problems relating to the ownership and tenancy of agricultural land in Pakistan. The Commission presented its report on January 24, 1959. The salient features of the report were as under:

1. A person could not own more than either 500 acres of canal irrigated land or 1000 acres of unrelated land or 36000 produce index units whichever is more. In addition, an owner was allowed to have 150 acres of land for gardens and pastures. Over and above the limit, the land was to be taken by the Government after the payment of suitable compensation to the owners.

2. Utilization of resumed area. The excess land acquired by the Government was sold on reasonable conditions to the tenants. Afterwards, the remaining land was sold to the deserving persons.

3. Creation of pool. The sale-proceeds of the acquired land was pooled in a separate fund. This fund was utilized for payment of compensation to the landlords to meet the administrative expenses in implementing the development projects in the acquired land and clearing of the bad debts.

4. Jagirs. Every kind of jagir, religious, charitable or educational institutions, was abolished, However, the institutions were given grants-in-aid.

5. Protection to tenants. Illegal ejectment of the tenants was prohibited. In case a tenant was legally ejected, he was to be provided alternative land. He was also to be properly compensated for the improvements made in the land.

6. Proprietary rights for the occupancy tenants. The existing law with regard to giving proprietary rights to the occupancy tenants was made operative as usual.

7. Prohibition of illegal exactions. Illegal exactions by the landlords were prohibited.

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The ownership ceiling under 1959 reforms was quite high because.

(i) It applied to individuals instead of families.

(ii) the owners were allowed to transfer land up to a specified limit before calculation of their entitlements.

(iii) special exemptions were also granted for land under orchards and livestock farms.

As a result of reforms, a total of 2.5 million acres of land was resumed and 2.3 million areas of land was distributed to nearly 1.8 lakh peasants. These reforms however set the ball rolling for successive agrarian reforms and started a movement for voluntary reductions in individual ownership, encouraging creation of a strong middle-class of owner-operated farms of economic size.

(3). Land reforms of 1972

The late Mr.Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, after assuming power in December, 1971, introduced land reforms on March 1, 1972. These were not confined merely to reduction of size of ownership holdings but had many other agrarian reform features. The salient features of the land reforms were as under:

1. The ceiling on land ownership was reduced to 150 acres in the case of irrigated land, 300 acres in the case of unirrigated land or 12,000 produce index units whichever was larger. Owners with tractors or tube wells were allowed to keep additional 2,000 produce index units (PIU's).

2. The area under ''Stud and Livestock'' farms was resumed free from any charge whatsoever.

3. The area shikargahs except historical shikargahs was resumed by the state for distribution among the peasants.

4. The land acquired by the state was distributed to the landless tenants free of charge.

5. In case of economic or above holdings, further sub-division by alienation or partition was prohibited if the resultant holding would be less than economic land.

6. Similarly in case of subsistence or above holdings, further sub-division was not allowed if it resulted in less than subsistence holding.

7. Restrictions were placed on the ejectments of tenants by the landlords. A tenant could only be ejected if he failed to pay rent or used the land in a manner which made it unfit for the purpose he got the land or sublet his tenancy.

8. In 1975, the Government gave revenue concessions to small land-owners holding up to 12 acres of irrigated land or 25 acres of n0n-irrigated land. These cultivators were exempted from payment of land revenue land rates, development cases with effect from rabi crop of 1975-76.

9. On December 18, 1976, the Government declared that the tenants and the tillers of soil having less than subsistence holdings will be given cultivable and cultivable waste state land. It was also announced that all occupancy tenants of state land were declared the owners of the land.

Under the land reforms of 1972. a total of 1.3 million acres was resumed. Out of this .9 million acres were distributed to the farmers. The land reforms of 1972 were not effective as the landlords had distributed most of their fertile land among the relatives, friends and even to tenants.

New land reforms of 1971 by Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto

. Land in excess of prescribed ceilings was resumed without compensation.

. Payment of land revenue cusses water rate taxes surcharges levies on land and provision of seed was made the responsibility of the owners.

. Cost of pesticides and fertilizers was to be shared equally between the tenants and the owners.

. The tenant was given the first right of pre-emption in respect of sale of land under his tenancy.

. Owners were forbidden to levy cusses on tenants or take free labour from them.

. Contravention of these regulations was made punishable by rigorous imprisonment extending up to 7 years and confiscation of immovable property in case false declarations were made.

10. On January 5, 1977, the Government announced a further reduction in the ceiling of land ownership. The individual land holding was reduced to 100 acres of irrigated or 200 acres of non-irrigated land equivalent to 8,000 PIUs whichever was more. These reforms also had some agrarian features such as abolition of land revenue on holdings of 25 acres or less and imposition of agricultural income tax on large land-owners.

2. Claimed benefits of land reforms.

1. The total land resumed as % of cultivated land was only 0.4 in 1977 and 2.6 in the land reform of 1972 against 6.2% of the land reform of 1959. The actual steal surrender of land was small.

2. The occupancy tenant cultivators, though small in number, got the right of ownership of land. They, being the owners, now take greater interest in raising the yield per hectare.

3. The tenants have been saved from the exploitation of big landlords. They cannot be ejected at the sweet will of the owners of the land.

4. The area declared as excess by the landlords was distributed among the landless peasant. The economic position of these tenants has improved.

5. As the ceiling were fixed on the size of economic holdings and subsistence holdings, the chances of further fragmentation of land have been eliminated.

6. The landlords greatly lost their traditional superiority. They do not wield as much political power as they had before the agrarian reforms.

7. The land reforms have helped in increasing the middle income group. This group is more conscious of its duties and obligations to the fellow citizens and the state.

8. The consolidation of holding has made it possible to use the modern inputs more. The income of the small farmers has increased.

9. The landlords with decreased area of land have started taking interest in improving the agricultural production. They are using modern agricultural technology which has greatly increased the yield per hectare.

10. The increase in the income of the small farmers has increased the demeaned for various manufactured goods. The market for the industrial goods has thus widened.

11. As the tenants have now greater security of income in the villages, the large scale migration of labour from agriculture to industry has declined.

Factual position of land reforms.

The land reforms introduced by Field Marshall Mohammad Ayub Khan and Mr :Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto were only cosmetic reforms. The actual position is that vast acres of land were exempted and left to the landlords for growing orchards to illegally transfer their big holdings to their relatives. The land was even transferred to their loyal servants, after having them signed ''power of attorney.'' The landlords have seized back their lands from all of them. The land is still owned by the same landlords.

However, these measures were implemented half heartedly. The various land reforms introduced were largely a political legal eyewash. They exist mostly on paper. The main obstacles to land reforms are as under.

Obstacles to land reforms:

(1) Lack of political will. The dominance of vested interest in the Government is the basic obstacle in the implementation of land reforms.

(2) Transfers on papers. The land transferred under the various agrarian reforms is mainly on papers. Technically, the landlords are still the owners of land.

(3) Incomplete land records. The inadequacy of land reforms benami, transfers etc have also created impediments in the implementation of land reforms.

(4) Lack of efficient enforcing machinery. Inn implementation of land reforms, the role of administration is very crucial. The agency charged with this responsibility have local vested interests. So the halfhearted enforcement causes further delay in the enforcement of land reforms.

(5) Weak position of tenants. Whatever, little agrarian reforms have been introduced, these too have not been enforced due to weak and pitiable conditions of the tenants. The unlawful ejecments of tenants and their exploitation by the absentee landlords is still prevalent as before.



1. Ceiling of ownership.

500 acres of irrigated or 1000 acres unirrigated or 36.000 produce index units.


150 acres irrigated or 300 acres unirrigated or 12.000 Plus.


100 acres irrigated or 200 acres unirrigated or 8.000 Plus

2. Exemptions.

(a) Orchards hectares 150 acres.

(a) All exemption withdrawn except for recognized educational institutions.

(c) There were no exemptions. Owners with tractors or tube wells were allowed addition 2,000 Plus.

(b) Gift to heirs 500 acres.

(b) Shikargah (historical) was transferred to state.

(c) Gift female dependents 166 acres.

(d) Livestock farm studs were exempted.

(e) No ceiling for recognised educational institutions.


3. Compensations.

(a) The recipients to pay the price of land in installments at different slab rates.


(a) There was no compensation for the acquired land.


(a) Compensation at a fixed value of Rs. 30 per Plus.

4. Land-lord tenant relations.

(a) The occupancy tenants to get ownership of the resumed land on payment of the price of land in installments.

(b) Resumed land distributed to tenants without making any payment.

(c) The tenants were distributed land free of cost.

(b) The landlord could not eject the tenant so long he fulfilled the required conditions of tenancy.

(b) No landlord could eject the tenant at his own will.

(c) The tenant was given first right of pre-emption if the landlord sold the land.

5. Consolidation of holding.

(a) A programmer for different areas was announced for consolidation of holding above economic and subsistence holding.

Consolidation of holding above economic and subsistence level continued.

Consolidation of holding above economic and subsistence level continued.


sayed haider abbas on November 17, 2015:

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RANA Muhammad Abdullah on April 23, 2015:

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hira on April 04, 2015:

its very comprehensive article...hats off to you

mtn on October 28, 2014:

So nice.

tahir nazeer on October 28, 2014:

Your notes are very very very eassy to understand

aasia on September 11, 2014:

such an informative essay

soha on May 28, 2014:

its a great essay.very comprehensive and reflects each objective of the matter...

Aaa-shah on April 28, 2014:

Your notes are very esay to understand..

Naila zahid on April 20, 2014:

All topics are discussed in one topic.Thanks for help.thanks a lot...

sama on April 18, 2014:

nice article

economistkhan on April 16, 2014:

its apreciable thank you for help

Muhammad Abdullah on March 08, 2014:

its really help full thank u writer

Muhammad Arif on December 24, 2012:

It is really very detailed topic on the subject

Your effort in this regard is apreciated

M.ALI TAHIR on June 28, 2012:

Interesting. Thank u

Nadia on April 05, 2012:

Interesting & detailed article on Pakistan's land reforms. Thank u for taking the time to write & share it.

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