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19 May 2009

Pakistan Fissures I: Hating the Manor-Born

from TheTerrorWonk by Aaron Mannes

According to the article, about four dozen landlords dominated Swat Valley. The Taliban organized peasant militias who then began pressuring the landlords. When the landlords fled, the peasants were rewarded with access to resources controlled by the absentee landholders.

This social divide is not unique to the Swat Valley. It prevails throughout rural Pakistan. Landlord may be a misnomer. They are more akin to feudal lords (within Pakistan they are referred to as the “feudals.”) They often control local politics, access to key resources, and even have private armies and prisons. Recent generations have acquired Western educations and can often articulate Western values and address Western concerns when speaking to that audience. Some of them may be committed to modernizing Pakistan. But the most landholders are focused on maintaining their positions and status. The Bhutto clan, which controls Pakistan’s leading political party the PPP is also one of most powerful landholding families in the country.

See http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/17/world/asia/17pstan.html?_r=1&sq=Pakistan&st=cse&scp=7&pagewanted=all

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