DAWN.COM | Editorial | MQMâ€™s land bill The Muttahida finally submitted its land reform bill in the National Assembly on Tuesday, with Dr Farooq Sattar conceding it would be difficult to plough the bill through a parliament dominated by the agriculture lobby. The MQM, which has been talking about such a bill for quite some time, seems to have done its homework, for the draft law suggests 36 and 54 acres of irrigated and rain-fed land respectively as the minimum cultivable unit that would be economic. A party with its base in Sindhâ€™s urban area, the MQM has nothing to lose if such a bill is passed, because nobody in this world legislates against oneâ€™s class interests. The aim behind the proposed law is laudable: it seeks to break up large landholdings to give the tenant-farmer the land which he and his forefathers have tilled for centuries. The landless peasant toils in the burning sun and creates wealth out of which he himself gains nothing. He remains perpetually dependent on the feudal lord for his very survival. Land reforms have been talked about in Pakistan since the latterâ€™s formation, and there has been no dearth of ideologues, firebrand leftists, drawing room revolutionaries and, undoubtedly, some sincere and dedicated activists who paid with their lives for their crusade. Nevertheless at least three serious attempts were made to reform the anachronistic pattern of landownership that has been the single biggest cause of the countryâ€™s failure to develop a thriving middle class with a stake in the democratic process. The land reform by Ayub Khan and the two bouts of it by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had only a marginal impact on rural society because the feudal lobby, well-entrenched in state structure and society, managed to evade implementation. The scheming that went into evading the reforms is a story unto itself. Unfortunately, the reform was nullified, with the rich landowners continuing to control all levers of state power and society. The most obvious indication of the landownersâ€™ power and greed is their shamefaced refusal to pay tax on agricultural income, while making the middle and lower classes pay taxes through their noses. This lobby has a vested interest in a continuation of the socio-economic status quo. The MQM will have to face the lawmakers of this class while piloting the bill through parliament. Theoretically, no one is likely to oppose the bill, for the MQMâ€™s pro-reform resolution was passed unanimously by the National Assembly on Sept 3. But the true face of Pakistanâ€™s Junker class will be seen when the two houses discuss a bill that strikes at the very basis of its power and privileges.