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India’s agri-reforms despite hiccup triggers debate for modernisation in Pakistan

Pak experts underline the need to bring in agriculture reforms in the country

As Pakistan economy struggles, several voices have come up underlining the need to bring agriculture reforms in the country. A recent article in Pakistan based newspaper Dawn, highlighted that agricultural reforms have either been completely ignored or when undertaken, have been more aligned with the interests of the powerful.

Lawyer and academic Amber Darr, in an editorial piece in the newspaper, said that in the absence of meaningful reform, Pakistan is simply sitting on a gunpowder keg, waiting to explode.

“It is, therefore, in the interest of the government to turn its attention towards the modernisation and uplift of the Pakistani agricultural sector and to do so, not in blind adherence to the economic guidance provided by the WTO and other multilateral agencies but in consultation with the domestic players that have a stake in these reforms.”

While Pakistani observers have treated these protests as a specifically Indian phenomenon such a view points to short-sightedness, especially considering the multiple similarities pertaining to food habits, agriculture and climatic conditions between the two countries.

“The uncomfortable reality is that the absence of protests in Pakistan is not due to any positive action taken by the Pakistani government to prevent them, but due to the acute backwardness of its agriculture sector. Unlike their Indian counterparts, the Pakistani small farmers have remained too poor, too under-educated and too powerless to organise themselves into a group and to agitate for their interests,” Darr wrote.