Feudalism can be broadly defined as a system for structuring society around relationships derived from the holding of land, in exchange for service or labor. It is referred to as a concept from the past in rest of the world while poor people of Pakistan are still coexisting with the landlords.
Feudal culture is gradually eliminated in other provinces of Pakistan but still exists very strongly in Sindh. It exists in the form of large landholders having social, political and often extending from legal to religious powers.
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The political system of Sindh majorly revolves around feudal lords as they are being treated as kings. It is a curse that has lingered ever since the country was born. The jirga/panchayat system prevails, and decisions are made by the feudal being head of the Jirga. Innocent people are either killed or punished brutally to only ‘equal’ the score in conflict settlements. Police and judiciary have little to no power in the affairs of the village or town.
Very strong control of ‘feudal’ and ‘waderas’ in all parts of Sindh has been existing for ages. They have a direct influence on the economic life of the poor. Resultantly, the poverty level in the interior of Sindh is alarmingly high. Due to the colossal power base of the ‘feudal’, locals do not dare to raise their voices against the ‘land-lord’ because they fear being economically crippled. The wrath of terror which can be unleashed at any time is also used in the democratic process of elections. This is the major reason one party has been ruling since decades.
District management officials are appointed directly on the recommendation of tribal chiefs, instead on merit and according to legal procedures. Large landholders across the province have secured seats in national and Sindh assembly controlling both property and people. They monopolize its agriculture, sit in its parliament and feed on its resources. So, the political system of the province on a broader level provides landlords the opportunity to practice feudal values in a broader field.
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The impact of feudal politics on floods
The current monstrous monsoon not only destroyed everything in the province but also played a part in exposing the monstrous face of some politicians. The inconsiderate, absolutely irresponsible and heartless behavior of Sindh government leaders was all over social media. Thanks to the technology, their vile behavior towards the locals were recorded and some of them were revealed in action.
Recently, a video got viral on the internet where Amir Ali Shah Gillani. He is a Feudal lord in Sindh, who is also affiliated with the party in power. He was enjoying a cold drink and washing his feet with mineral water in front of the poorest of the poor when a catastrophic flood had destroyed their homes and swept away their crops. He was least concerned about the situation of hungry people, who have even lost their loved ones during floods. He was also seen distributing rice in form of flood relief to the victims in the most disgusting way possible.
Sindh government shows zero sympathy for the people standing in flood water. Provincial Minister of Sindh, Nawab Ali Wassan treated the flood victims in Khairpur like his slaves. They came in hope of help while he was on his boat. He blatantly compared the situation of flooded Sindh with that of Venice, with no shame. This triggered the emotional side of the public and he faced massive backlash across social media platforms.
It is undoubtedly a humongous deterrent that is hampering and barricading the development of the province. The so-called “elected” leaders of Sindh who are quite ironically “feudal” of the area, quash the paramount and basic rights of the people living there. Locals are unfortunately still strangled by this pathetic sub-system of government. The peasants are so terrified that they have accepted feudal domination, which goes totally against basic human rights.
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Feudal culture is assimilated into the politics of Pakistan which is often viewed as the biggest blight on the province’s development. The evil attitude of the Sindh government (feudal lords) towards the public is morally unacceptable and must be condemned in any form. There is a need for pragmatic strategies which can make the people of Sindh cognizant of their political, social as well as economic freedom. Hence, the concept of feudalism needs to be separated from politics to achieve progress in one of the most neglected provinces of Pakistan.
The writer has worked for I-SAPS, CRCP, ISSRA and ISPR. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.