1 1947 - 1965, the period of stagnating agriculture
In 1947. Pakistan was merely an agricultural country. A few
factories, especially for processing cotton and sugar could
only be found in the cities of Karachi and Lyallpur.
The young nation's main task in the initial years was to secure
its population's survival, to integrate millions of refugees
from India and to legitimize the new state. In an agricultural
country, it was not surprising that the first political approaches
were made in agriculture.
While the agrarian reform measures of the first years were
not very drastic, the abolition of intermediaries was rather
successful. This measure could be enforced because it did
away with colonial relicts. It was far more difficult to enforce
a ceiling legislation, although land was urgently needed for
distribution to refugees. The Land Reform Law of 1950, limiting
ownership of landed property to 100 ha irrigated or 200 ha
non-irrigated land, xairning at the country's elite, could
very often be evaded. The government had to distribute government
land to satisfy the most urgent needs of refugees. Contrary
to proclamations, tenants were hardlv involved in the reform
For the development process, the structure of the country's
elite was determinating. It was and still is pluralistic,
with landowners, military men and higher administrative officers
- and these often in close relationships - sharing power in
the initial years. An industrial elite developed some years
later only, consisting mainly of families migrating from India.
The landowners were of decisive importance during that time.
The large landowners practised mostly a policy which has
been characterized as "rental feudalism". The land
was rented to small tenants, and landlords cared little about
improving agriculture but tried to earn higher incomes by
strict control of the rent. Their aim was not to increase
the production but increase the skimmed off part of the yield.
Of course, there were also numerous small and medium farms,
but their efficiency was limited. They practised traditional
farming. Improved seed varieties, fertilizers, etc. were not
available and the irrigation system had many shortcomings,
especially as far as management is concerned. Salinity became
The objectives of these smaller farms were rather self-sufficiency
and barter at local level. Lacking infrastructure even made
it difficult to produce for the market.
During this time, several large-scale attempts were made
to improve agricultural development, by way of extension,
by establishing cooperatives and by a community development
programme. All of these had little success partly because
of a too isolated approach, partly because of insufficient
personnel and financial means and also because the rural elite
was more oriented towards retaining the status quo than towards
agricultural development. In this and later periods, the frequent
change in strategies had a negative impact. No approach was
carried on long enough to be able to mature.
Almost stagnating agriculture meant production increase
below the population increase of 2.5 to 3 per cent and thus
constant dependence upon the food imports. This consumed foreign
exchange, caused political dependence and hindered non-agricultural
In line with the concepts of development policy at that
time, the first Five-Year-Plan laid emphasis on the industrial
development but with poor success. Lack of industrial tradition,
shortage of capital and foreign currency, limited purchasing
power among the mass of the population and too strong regulation
and interference by government created a climate which hardly
promoted industrial development.
Increasing population and reduction in farm sizes as result
of the inheritance custom led to growing underemployment.
Adjustment by way of migration was hardly possible because
of the few jobs in towns. Moreover, the caste system, still
intact at the time, prevented many persons from changing their
occupations as is generally required when one migrates. Indeed,
the castes (zat) in Pakistan lacked the religious components,
but they are rigid, endogamous patronage groups. Otherwise,
there was often a strong aversion to manual work outside agriculture
and to working for others.
During this period of stagnating traditional economy and
agriculture, there were not many forces which tended towards
changing the conditions. Besides the few cities and towns,
the country consisted of a large number of isolated villages
populated by illiterates. Until the war against India, in
1965, the mass of the population had hardly developed any
national feeling. There were no transistors nor other means
of communication in the rural areas. Therefore, for the mass
of the population, the world was restricted to an orbit of
a few villages. Agriculture and the urban centres had little
connection politically or economically.
The role of agriculture in this community at that time was:
- to provide food and raw materials;
- to form capital mainly for transfer to other sectors
by way of taxes and
- to procure foreign exchange, especially by cotton export,
- to absorb the increasing number of labourers.
The stagnating agriculture fulfilled these tasks to a limited
extent only and, therefore, contributed little towards development.
The feudal structure provided no incentives for change. Peasants
were dependent on their landlords.