1. Land reform in Pakistan
Re-distribution of land amongst small land owners by
expropriating land from large land owners.
breaking up large land holdings and thereby changing the
pattern of land ownership to stop the concentration of land in
a selected few hands.
2. Why Land Reform is important
Society has peculiar social economic and political
Society becomes stratified.
Manorial system hampers social progress and landless
peasants remain politically weak.
therefore unable to seek solutions to the problems.
Concentration of land is deemed as an undesirable to
social and economic equality.
3. Land reforms 1947-49
The first government review of land reforms was tackled in
the province of Sind in 1947.
the Government Hari Enquiry Committee declared that:
The Haris’ problems are of the their own creation or natural problems.
the landlord is in fact a friend of the Hari and land reform is deemed
undesirable and even a loss for the Hari.
However, One member of the committee dissented and his
minute of dissent was not published until April, 1949.
The dissenter, Muhammad Masud wrote that:
The condition of Haris is deplorable.
the differences between the landlord and Hari is too unfair.
4. His recommendations:
Abolishment of manorial system
Expropriation of land from landlords.
And that absolute ownership of land be vested in the State.
After publishing the notice The Pakistan Muslim League
constituted a five member committee,
The committee presented its report in June 1949,
It proposed short term measures include the reduction in
share of owner from share croppers.
The long term measures proposed included restriction on
large land ownership and expropriation of land that excess
the limit of maximum land holding.
5. The recommendation on land holdings was 150 acres for
irrigated and 450 acres for un-irrigated land.
The committee was undecided on the issue of land
The proposed short term measure was implemented in
Sind, Punjab and NWFP between 1950 and 1952.
But nothing was done to help the farmers of Baluchistan and
the princely states (Bahawalpur, Khairpur, etc.).
6. Ayub Khan’s reforms 1959
A ceiling of 500 acres for irrigated and 1000 acres for un-
Land was to be redistributed amongst to tenants already
cultivating the land.
Permanent proprietary rights to occupancy tenants.
Idea of “subsistence holdings” of no less than 50 acres was
However, Ghulam Ishaq Khan was dissented with the
majority opinion on the land ceiling.
He proposed the ceiling of 150 and 450 acres of irrigated/un-
irrigated land for individuals and 300/900 acres limit for
7. Effect of 1959 reforms
The recommendations were put into force through the Martial Law
Regulation No. 64 on February 7, 1959.
2.5 million acres of land was resumed,.
2.3 million of it distributed amongst 183,271 tenants and small owners.
The resumed land was around of 4.5 % of the total cultivable land in
just 0.65 million acres was distributed amongst the farmers who had
holdings below subsistence level (12.5 acres).
The government overtook only 35% of the holdings.
In 1947, Less than 1% of farm owners control more than 25% of
After the 1959 reforms, less than 8.5% of farm owners control more than
42% of agricultural land.
However, average holding per landlord was still 7,208 acres in Pakistan
and 11,810 acres in Punjab due to the state’s inefficiency.
8. ZAB and Land Reforms
He promulgated on March 1, 1972, Martial Law Regulation No.
115 of 1972, often called Land Reforms Regulation 1972.
The ceiling on land holdings was lowered to 150 and 300 acres for
irrigated and un-irrigated land respectively.
The reforms failed to produce the expected results.
A second wave of reforms were introduced through the Land
Reforms Ordinance, 1977.
Ceiling on land holdings was reduced to 100 acres for irrigated land
and 200 acres for un-irrigated land.
9. Effect of the 1972 and 1977 reforms
Under the 1972 reform:
1.3 million acres of land was resumed.
0.9 million of that was distributed amongst 76,000 beneficiaries.
Under the 1977 reform:
another 1.8 million acres of land was resumed.
0.9 million acres was distributed amongst 13,143 beneficiaries.
By the end of the Ayub Khan and Bhutto’s measures had benefited
only 272,000 out of the total 10 million eligible rural population.
Only 4.5 million acres of cultivated land (less than 10% of the total)
10. Legal Problems and fate of Land Reforms
On 5 July 1977, Zia ul Haq overthrew the government of Zulfiqar
He brought with him the notion of Islamization.
He created the Federal Shariat Court (FSC) for the first time.
Aim being to review whether a law is repugnant to the injunctions
FSC created Shariat Benches in the High Courts and Supreme
Qazalbash Waqf it claimed that its possession of hundreds of acres
of land was merely to serve humanity.
In total, 67 Shariat petitions were filed in various courts challenging
the land reform legislations.
11. The majority judgment held that fixing a ceiling on land
holdings was not adverse to Islamic law.
But the Peshawar High Court declared the ceiling on land
holdings as un-Islamic.
After 12 years in 1989 the Appeals were filed and final
decision was delivered to judgment of the “Shariat
Appellate Bench” of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
The judgment was split 3-2 in favour of declaring the
various questions raised on land reforms as un-Islamic.
The two ulema judges had opinion that land reform was un-
Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani arguing that the land
reform legislation was repugnant to the injunctions of
Islam, he states:-
12. Individual property rights in Islam are the same as rights over
other categories like goods.
Islam has imposed no quantitative limit (ceiling) on land or any
other commodity that can be owned by a person.
If the state imposes a permanent limit on the amount of land
which can be owned by its citizen, then such an imposition of
limit is completely prohibited by the Shariah.
The order to spend surplus on the poor is not a mandatory order
which can be normally enforced by the state.
The objective of the Islamic welfare system is the sustenance of
the poor. The state’s welfare role is limited.
The dissenters on the bench, based their opinion on the concept
of social welfare and equality in the Islamic state.