ISLAMABAD, Nov 8: Parliament is the only forum to legislate about viable land reforms in the country, said speakers at a seminar here on Thursday.

They said land reform was the only way to ensure sustainable food security, increased farm productivity, poverty alleviation and overall socio-economic uplift of the country.

The seminar, “Where are land reforms on political agenda in Pakistan?” was organised by the Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment in collaboration with Oxfam International, Land Watch Asia, International Land Coalition and National Peasants Coalition of Pakistan-Pakistan Kisan Sangat

Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Farooq Sattar said it was imperative that all major political parties incorporate equitable, effective land and agrarian reforms in their election manifestos.

“Parliament is a platform where legislation for land reforms can be initiated,” he added and urged the civil society members, including media, to play their part in pushing forward for land reforms which is an actually integral part of agricultural reforms.

He said after extremism and terrorism, the second biggest threat to our country was economic degradation.

“True democracy cannot be ensured unless there is no representation of the underprivileged people in the policy-making process,” he said. Mr Sattar added: “Big landlords, feudal, transporters and industrialists have also to be brought under the tax net.”

Abdullah Malik, an adviser to the governor of Punjab, said agriculture sector was the backbone of the country’s industrial sector as it provided raw material for it. However, land reforms cannot be avoided or blocked, for these are must for sustainability of industrial sector.

Dr Shahid Zia of Pakistan Tahrik-i-Insaaf said policymakers in parliaments safeguarded their own rights instead of keeping in mind the benefit of the ordinary farmers.

Senator Raza Mohammad Raza of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party said the feudal were still ridiculing the stature of the helpless women.

They are the ones who have been opposing land reforms since independence, he added.

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