December 04, 2007

How Pakistan’s military came to dominate the state

How Pakistan’s military came to dominate the state
A new feudalism
By Ayesha Siddiqa

In the desert town of Bahawalpur, 20 landless peasants told me how the local government was trying to force them off state land that they have occupied for a decade. The land had just been transferred to military personnel who wanted control of it, and the government did not care where the peasants went after eviction. “If they don’t have room for us then why don’t they push us across the Indian border,” a woman complained.

Pakistan has more than 20 million landless peasants but no policy to distribute 93m acres of state lands among them. Instead, the land is given to powerful individuals and groups such as the military, which currently controls about 12% of total state land. Out of the 11.58m acres controlled by the military, approximately 6.9m go to military personnel. Distributing state land is a colonial practice started by the British to create friendly communities and reward the military. Unlike India, Pakistan has continued giving state land to officers and soldiers. The officers get more land than soldiers, as well as extra subsidies such as access to water and farm-to-market roads. These constitute indirect subsidies whose value is not even calculated.

The officers also get urban land, which soldiers don’t. The military has converted state land into housing schemes in towns and cities; there are some two dozen housing schemes for officers. This state land includes military parade and exercise grounds and firing ranges. The military also use their influence to acquire private land at subsidised or low rates, and develop it with military resources. This brings huge financial dividends, and profits from real estate have made most generals multi-millionaires.

A conservative estimate is that the total worth of rural land given to military personnel is about 1,400bn rupees (1); the value of urban land is harder to calculate because of the lack of complete data. But the Defence Housing Scheme built on 720 acres in Rawalpindi, which earned its stakeholders a profit of 24bn rupees, gives some idea. In Lahore, the military authorities paid 11bn rupees for 3,375 acres, which they later sold for 135bn rupees.


Anonymous said...

the pak army is a pest that eats on the land that it lives ....

the current action of the pakistan army against the innocent civilians of NWFP is evidence of their brutality and worship of mammon ...

like all other evil institutions they claim that they are peace makers and hold values like faith and service while they are really evil mongers ....

civilians of the pakistan should stand behind the religion of Allah and mutilate these bastards ... these wifeswapping , whorepounding evildoers ....

their houses should be bombed like they bomb the houses of other muslims for money

Anonymous said...

I am sure the commenton 14 June 2009 has been given by the taliban. Ayesha Siddiqua should denounce them otherwise I understand she has tacitily approved the taliban support against Pakistan Army.
Had it not been for Pakistan Army, the Taliban would have by now over run India and the entire Asia.
Jehanzeb Khan Afridi