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Pakistan: Council for Agrarian Reforms in Sindh launched

8 February 2015

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KARACHI (6 February 2015): Sindh Agrarian Reforms Council was launched on Friday at a gathering held at a local hotel. The meeting was organized by National Peasants’ Coalition of Pakistan (NPCP) and Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment (SCOPE) in collaboration with Oxfam. More than 80 participants including Parliamentarians, civil society activists, journalists, peasants and people belonging to different sections of society attended the meeting and endorsed the initiative. The Council will bean independent competent Think Tank for giving recommendations for reviewing the land and agrarian policies of Sindh. Member Sindh Parliament Faqirdad Khoso (Pakistan Peoples’ Party), Syed Sardar Ahmed and Heer Soho (Mutahida Qaumi Movement), and Mehtab Akbar Rashdi (PML-N) and others including Karamat Ali of PILER, Dr. Jabbar Khattak (senior journalist); Ruchi Ram (senior advocate); Hashim Laghari (former Secretary Sindh) and Netraj Kohli (peasant leader) spoke on the occasion and shared their views.

SARC was founded on the premise that no single set of policy initiatives by this government could be as significant as land and agrarian reforms for providing sustainable livelihoods to the poor majority in the agriculture sector in Sindh, and by linkage, to those in the rest of the country. Hence, the overall objective of the Council is to develop rural economy of Sindh and tackle the widespread poverty in the Province through strengthening Agriculture and supporting the rights of farmers and peasants (landless Hari).

Other specific objectives are to strengthen the Sindh Government in developing effective land and agrarian policies in the wake of Provincial Autonomy attained after the 18th Constitutional Amendment, to develop common understanding on issues related to farmers, peasants, land, food security, irrigation and agriculture as well as on the need to reforming related policies and laws as per new ground realities, to prioritize the issues to be considered for the short and long term, to gather data and through data-based analysis, provide issue based precise recommendations to the Government for reviewing the related policies of Sindh, to launch an “MPA’s Caucus in the Sindh Assembly” who will lobby and promote the Council’s recommendations for policy change, Members of Council to decide its structure and Chairperson.

The SARC will comprise on politicians / members of the Parliament and Senate, senior civil society experts and technocrats, academicians, judiciary members (Retired Judges/Lawyers), media persons, farmers / peasants.

The “Sindh Agrarian Reforms Council” would be an independent organization, a non-political, non-governmental and non-commercial body, comprised of heterogeneous membership which will take into consideration all the prioritized issues of Agriculture Sector in Sindh. The Council will prioritize and take up few urgent issues a tthe moment, but over the time it may broaden its scope to cover a wide range of agro-economic and environment policy issues ranging from rural infrastructure and agri-marketing to issues pertaining to comprehensive land and agrarian reforms. The Council’s deliberations would be intended to improve policy discussions among policy makers, journalists and the general public with thehope that wiser policy decisions will result. The Council will meet on a quarterly basis to review its progress and discuss the agenda items. SCOPE will serve as the Secretariat of Council for its regular coordination and facilitation. SCOPE will also help mobilize funds to meet the expenses of Council’s meetings and the follow up. At each meeting, well researched presentations will be made or papers will be presented by the SARC members on a variety of agro-economic and public policy topics.

The Council’s mandate and objectives were agreed unanimously. The participants including Parliamentarians, civil society activists, journalists and learned people belonging to different sections of society present in the meeting and some others who have failed to attend but gave their consent have now become the General Body meeting of the “Sindh Agrarian Reforms Council”. It was decided to hold another meeting within a month to constitute anExecutive Body of the Council who will comprise of MPAs and influential leaders of civil society (peasantry, CSOs, media, academia, judiciary, etc.) who will pursue the prioritized issues in the parliament and other policy making as wellas implementation institutions / forums.

[see also:
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/sindh/07-Feb-2015/sindh-agrarian-reforms-council-launched ]