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Bonded labor in Pakistan

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    Bonded labor in Pakistan

    Read below the condition of bonded labor in Pakistan of which 90 percent are Hindus. Many Pakistanis on this forum get very upset about any injustice (imaginary or real) done to Muslims anywhere in the world and blame everybody specially Jews and Hindus. They should look in their own backyard to see the inhumane treatment meted out to Pakistani Hindus.

    ================================================== ========================================
    Breaking the chains of slavery

    By M. Umer Sharique

    GENERATIONS after generations they have tilled the land they do not possess. Though they labour like galley slaves round the year working their fingers to the bone, the end-result has always been hunger, poverty and diseases for them, but, to their dismay, abundant wealth, fame and even seats in the legislative assemblies for the holders of the land.

    Their endless, life-long, hard labour does not even enable them to get rid of the advance (Peshgi) they or their forefathers had taken from their masters decades ago. They are Sindh's bonded haris who, their landlords believe, are condemned to be free.

    While the world has entered the post-modern era, our country has yet to say farewell to the centuries-old feudal and tribal culture and its abominable practices. Since 1843, when the British occupied Sindh and granted big lands to the feudal lords and tribal chieftains of the province with hereditary rights, which meant total control over the lands' resources and population, they have been treating their haris like slaves.

    The two land reforms promulgated in 1959 and 1972 were not effective enough to weaken feudalism. The system has given birth to tens of thousands of bonded haris in the country, particularly in Sindh and southern Punjab.

    According to a report of a fact-finding mission of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, constituted on May 21, 1996, to inquire into the incidence of bonded labour on agricultural farms in Sindh, the problem of bonded labour is very grave in Thatta, Sanghar, Mirpurkhas, Umerkot, Badin and Hyderabad districts of lower Sindh, where 90 per cent of the haris happen to be Hindus. It, however, does not mean that the issue is less grave in upper Sindh. In northern Sindh, tribal relations are strong and most of the haris are Muslims. But since they happen to be Muslims, it does not mean that the relationship between landlords and haris here is less exploitative and based more on mutual respect and justice.

    No wonder, the illegal practice (read curse) of bonded labour continues unabated as landlords, according to the HRCP special task force for Sindh, hold great political and economic clout. Most of them are politicians and bureaucrats. The two main political parties of the country - the Pakistan People's Party and the Pakistan Muslim League - mostly consist of feudal lords. That none of them voices concern over the injustices and human rights violations being perpetrated upon bonded haris, let alone taking any legal action against the errant landlords, is no surprise.

    Unfortunately, the tillers of the province have no effective organization of their own to represent their case. There was none at the two-day convention on "human rights and human dignity", which was held on April 21-22 this year in Islamabad, to represent them and speak on behalf of the most suppressed community of this country - the farmers.

    At the end of the convention, some high-sounding promises were made in the human rights package announced by Chief Executive Gen Pervez Musharraf. The heavy-worded package says: "Bonded labour is banned in Pakistan but still defies abolition. Government will crack down on bonded labour mafia. This will be coupled with a protection and rehabilitation programme."

    The CE also decided to set up a fund for educating working children and rehabilitating bonded labourers. But these promises have yet to be fulfilled. Since the announcement of the package, over 200 bonded haris, including women and children, have been released on the order of the Sindh High Court, Hyderabad circuit bench, but nothing has been done to rehabilitate them. Where these haris will go and how they will look after their women and children, nobody knows. Their ordeal has not ended yet.

    No government since 1992, when for the first time in Sindh a private jail of a landlord, Haji Ghulam Hussain Khokar, was unearthed in Tando Allahyar taluka of the Hyderabad district, has taken any action against the landlords from whose private jails the HRCP has managed to get about 7,000 bonded haris freed.

    Unfortunately, the role of the judiciary itself has not been very encouraging in this regard. The courts have not convicted any landlord for violating the Sindh Tenancy Act, 1950, which allows a hari to keep with himself half of the agriculture produce, or violating the Bonded Labour (Abolition) Act, 1992, which disallows a landlord to keep a hari in bondage even if he (the hari) fails to repay the loan he has taken from the landlord, when they (courts) order the release of any bonded haris.

    As a result, landlords violate laws with impunity. They do not regret losing their slaves (bonded labourers) on their release. They can have more. The area where the haris are bought and sold like sheep happens to be Mirpurkhas district. Landlords do not harbour any fears while doing slave trade in this age. Haris, the slaves, do have many fears while being sold. They fear being arrested by the police in a false cases; being beaten badly by the men of landlords; and their wives being raped or gang-raped. Hence, they do not resist and prefer to reconcile with their fate.

    Haris live in abject poverty. They have no choice but to borrow money from landlords. And this becomes a trap for good. He is now at the mercy of his landlord According to the HRCP special task force, landlords are the notorious exploiters of child labour in Sindh. A landlord employs many ways to ensure that his hari could never repay his loan.

    1) A hari is provided with usually small loan of which no record is kept. This provides his landlord with an opportunity to charge the hari whatever amount he wants in the name of loan.

    2) The landlord forces the hari to equally share with him the cost of the seed each time a certain crop is sown. This practice, which is almost universal in Sindh, is contrary to the law as the MLR 115 of 1972 lays down that "the landlord alone - must supply the seed".

    3) The hari is unable to afford medical treatment and medicines. He has to borrow more money from the landlord, who adds the amount to the hari's loan, though the Sindh Tenancy Act, 1950, obliges a landlord to get his haris, working for three consecutive years on his farms, registered as permanent haris with well-defined rights.

    4) The landlord never equally shares, as the STA calls for, the agriculture produce of his lands with the hari, who, with his family, works hard to produce it. As a result, the hari is always penniless and depends on the landlord.

    5) At times, the landlord also gets his hari or any of his relatives arrested in a false case of which no FIR is registered. Later, the landlord himself gets him released and adds a huge amount into the hari's loan, saying that he has given the money to the police for his release.

    Thus the hari's loan keeps on multiplying. He gives up all hopes of living a free life and, consequently, does not struggle for it. Getting haris released through legal battles is not enough. Unless haris are legally given the lands they have been cultivating for many generations, the issue remains unresolved. The following suggestions may help expedite the process of the liberation of the bonded haris.

    1) The HRCP special task force should continue to highlight the issue through press and electronic media, and create human rights awareness, which will be central to the implementation of any policy that it intends to chalk out to help achieve the task.

    2) It must request the court, where it is fighting the case of bonded haris, to ensure that justice was done. That would mean that the landlord, who is found guilty of detaining haris in his private jail, or depriving them of their due share in agriculture produce, or criminally assaulting their women and children, is convicted of the crime and sentenced according to the Bonded labour (Abolition) Act.

    3) It must pressure the government to enforce the laws meant for preventing landlords from exploiting haris or from keeping them in bondage.

    4) Haris should be allotted 16 acres in the command areas and 32 acres in the barani (rain-fed) areas.

    5) They should be provided with residential quota on a lease basis.

    6) The government should set up district task force, headed by a district magistrate, to regularly visit the farms in his district to ensure that no hari is being subjected to bonded labour. District magistrates should also be directed to hold meeting with haris in their areas at least once in month to listen to their problems.

    7) Deputy commissioners should be directed to ensure the implementation of the STA, which requires them to see if the Mukhtiarkars (the taluka revenue officials) of their districts have registered the names of the tenant farmers working on the farms, which come in their jurisdictions, and have ensured that the loan records are not tampered with.

    8) Vigilance committees, comprising human rights activists and haris, to check human rights violations.

    9) A commission, to be headed by a high court judge, should be constituted to investigate the loans obtained by landlords in the names of haris, action be taken against those landlords who avoid repayment of such loans.

    10) A hari bank should be established to provide loans to haris on easy instalments.

    11) It should be made binding on the landlords to provide educational and health care facilities to their haris.

    12) A hari court and a legal aid committee should be established in each district to ensure the dispensation of justice to haris.

    It is time the human rights organizations and the government joined hands to eliminate the menace of bonded labour from the soil of Pakistan.
    ================================================== ========================================

    India should accept all the Hindu bonded laborers to end their terrible suffering.

    [This message has been edited by Rani (edited June 25, 2000).]

    Yeah why don't you take them back.
    We don't want them, we never have.
    They come illegally in our country and they take the jobs of the existing pakistanis.
    Please take them back and get them our hair.
    Also if the conditions were better in India why would they illegally come into our country?????
    You can't fix stupid. So might as well troll them!



      >>They come illegally in our country and they take the jobs of the existing pakistanis<<

      Can you explain ..why do you think they are illegally in your country?



        Their only fault is that they are Hindus...where is your sense of equality and justice you claim to have. Is it only reservered for muslims?

        Harris are as much Pakistanis as Indian muslims are Indians.
        You are condoning such terrible treatment of a fellow human being because they are Hindus.
        You sense of justice is only for reservered for muslims

        The treatment meted out to Hindu (harris) compares very favourably with treatment of minorities by KKK or Nazi's.

        I am sure while living in Switerland you want Swiss to give you all the rights but will never do the same for your own minorities.
        Your true nature is finally revealed.
        Next time you talk about Indian muslims or your other brothers think about Harris (Hindu bonded laborers) and their women being deprived of basic human dignity and sold in the market place as like animals and being made to work without any pay and punished in private jails.

        [This message has been edited by Rani (edited June 25, 2000).]

        [This message has been edited by Mursalin (edited June 26, 2000).]


          rani, haris are muslims also. but the treatment is no better. BTW. CM, haris are original inhabitants of land, proper sindhis.

          [This message has been edited by ZZ (edited June 25, 2000).]


            Yes ZZ i know haris are the native people of Sindh.
            But i read in a book - can't remember the name one of those long ones full of huge words i can't even pronounce!!! - that there is a huge illegal migration between the haris in pakistan and those related in India.
            I don't in any way condone Bonded Labour.
            I am actually totally against the Feudal sytem.
            What we should do is take all the feudal lords strip them of their land and establish a quota of land a family of 5 can have.
            Thus the land lords can't transfer the lands under the names of various individuals of the family and thus are successfully evading the law.
            Back to the topic, there is huge illegal immigration between these two areas in the country.
            Transfer of the illegal immigrants runs into the 1000's for just a 1 month period.
            However i do know by common knowledge that most of the bonded labour are from India and Bangladesh.
            There are very few pakistani haris in bonded labour compared to the Hindu and Bangladeshi immigrants.
            This is common knowledge.
            Was it you who posted the facts about Bangladeshi and Afghani women being sold as prostitues to Pakistani men????
            Well some one did and this is the same for bonded labour.

            Now Rani - what the heck is the matter with you girl - you seem to have it out for me even though i don't say anything.
            Where did i say that equality is only reserved for Muslims - where the heck do you come up with this religious messed up bull****???
            Where did i say their only fault was them being Hindu???
            Where the heck did i say that??
            Girl you are really pissing me off with all this ignorant bull****.
            Think and then Type!!!!!
            Ok girl now this crap of me being wanting to be Swiss that is the ****ing final straw.
            I am pakistani nothing else and damn proud of it.
            I don't want to be swiss or american.
            I have punched i guy in the face because he said i was technically american - and i am not going into that story at all.
            For your info girl, the swiss are more xenophobic than haider.
            to illustrate:
            2 twins girls lived in Geneva, then were born there had studied at swiss schools had swiss jobs, had swiss husbands but were originally yugoslavian.
            When they applied for citzen ship the Swiss government said no becuase they were yugo - no other reason talk about bloody racism.
            On one occasion i was on a train and i hadn't shaved for i say 3 weeks so i had a beard.
            An old lady asks me where am i from.
            I reply Afghanistan to see the reaction.
            She gets up and changes seats.
            Then at one stop she says in french to a young lady not to sit with me as i am Afghani - and i replied in french that its no problem, if you - the old lady - want to be racist that is your problem.
            Of course she said nothing but i didn't except a reply to that.
            I don't expect or want any help from the swiss.
            to illustrate another example.
            Most french swiss don't like to talk in english because they are snobs.
            When spoken in french by an american couple the clerk told them that their french was horrible and that he should speak english as their pronouncation was insulting the beautiful language of french.
            I speak fluent french yet i make the point to speak in english just to irritate them on their high horses.
            On one occasion i annoying a guy who would pretend not to understand english.
            As i had a huge shopping load and didn't have time to waste i backtracked and started putting the items back.
            He suddenly comes out in fluent english asking why am i putting the things back.
            I reply i don't have the time to waste so i will shop from somewhere else.
            But now that he is speaking in english he agrees to cash in my stuff.
            Any way a friend of mine shows up and speaks in french to me and i reply in french to him.
            The clerk ask that i speak french i reply in french yes i do but i don't like the french snobbery that comes with the language.
            He was really pissed.
            And lets just say i am not welcome in the shop anymore by embrassing the employee who happened to be the manager of the shop.

            Girl do you anything else other than attacking a person character and insulting him.
            Now from your post i and evrybody can see that it was meant in a degratory and rude manner.
            Insulting would be the apt word for your post.
            So you have to choices back off and apologise or get ready to tango.
            What will it be mon chere??
            Your choice.
            You can't fix stupid. So might as well troll them!



              Read the article carefully 90 percent of the haris are Hindus. I don’t think any Hindu would go illegally to Pakistan to become a bonded labor (no salary, to be beaten up and jailed at the will of the landlord) be sold in the market and witness their daughters and wives sold like animals.

              Your saying that they have taken jobs from Pakistanis is outrageous, for god sake they work for free. You seem to have complete disregard for inhumane treatment meted out to them. If you truly believed that all men are born equal you should try to solve their problems or at least show outrage at inhuman treatment given to them and failure of law to protect them. My suggestion that India should take them come out deep pain and sympathy at their condition.

              Your examples regarding treatment of minorities in Switzerland (thanks for sharing them with us) constitutes bad treatment according to the western standards but doesn’t come close to the treatment received by haris at the hands of Pakistani landlords.


              According the article 90 percent of the Haris are Hindus that is really awful.

              [This message has been edited by Rani (edited June 25, 2000).]



                [This message has been edited by Rani (edited June 26, 2000).]



                  Rani the article says that in one area 90% are Hindu and in the other area they are Muslim and there is no difference in their situation. This article was not posted to help us see a problem we have in Pak, but to point finger at us, in that case – the situation is not even close to what a normal person could call ‘better’ in India. You might have seen the documentaries on TV about it. Or I can help refresh your memory. Ever saw the documentary in which Muslim families are shown living in ’gande nale’ in India? As per the doc those families are born there and they die there unless some miracle happens (secular India haaN). Need more examples? Just because we are not that actively posting mud against India on BB’s it doesn’t mean that we don’t know anything. It’s not a part of our culture or nature to sink so deep, as to use other ppl’s misery to support our egos! Some problems are common in both countries – and we could use same solution without making it an ego problem.

                  Now back to the topic, the author says :>> At the end of the convention, some high-sounding promises were made in the human rights package announced by Chief Executive Gen Pervez Musharraf. The heavy-worded package says: "Bonded labour is banned in Pakistan but still defies abolition. Government will crack down on bonded labour mafia. This will be coupled with a protection and rehabilitation programme." <<

                  As we all know the convention he is talking about is not more then few months old, how did he expect changes in this little time, that too without any money! This is a complete social setup, you don’t just start ’saving’ ppl, you have to have some alternatives for them that matches their skills and needs. Sindh recently got its budget, and there are funds for poverty control and for agriculture. This budget can’t solve all the problems as it does not offer enough, but that’s what Pak can offer at this time. Hopefully with time it’ll change, we have definitely taken the first step towards the right direction.

                  >>The CE also decided to set up a fund for educating working children and rehabilitating bonded labourers. But these promises have yet to be fulfilled. Since the announcement of the package, over 200 bonded haris, including women and children, have been released on the order of the Sindh High Court, Hyderabad circuit bench, but nothing has been done to rehabilitate them. Where these haris will go and how they will look after their women and children, nobody knows. Their ordeal has not ended yet.<<

                  Through out Pak we have serious overstaffing problem but at this point we can’t do much about it – Ppl need alternatives, and right now we can’t offer much. What should be noted though is that the government realizes the problem and is determined to do something about it.


                    Ah its Rani "Anti-Pakistan Samjohta Express" on the move again! Bonded labour in Pakistan - hum I thought? this lady makes it too easy for us? but I'll rip into her "thesis" anyway! This is the state of bonded labour in India :-

                    "At least fifteen million children work as bonded laborers in India. Whether chained to carpet looms, sweating in silver smithies, or working in the field from dawn until dusk, these children endure miserable lives. They earn little and are beaten often. They do not go to school. From the age of four or five, many work for years in appalling conditions in often futile attempts to pay off family debts. Based on interviews with over one hundred children during a two-month investigation in India, this report details their plight in the silk, beedi (hand-rolled cigarettes), synthetic gems, silver, leather, agricultural, and carpet industries.
                    Bonded child labor is outlawed by international and Indian law, but the Indian government has failed utterly to end it. Human Rights Watch calls on the government of India to end bonded child labor by establishing independent bodies to inspect work sites and identify bonded child laborers, prosecuting and suspending licenses for employers using bonded child labor, and implementing a comprehensive rehabilitation program to ensure that bonded child laborers are sent to school. Human Rights Watch also calls on the international community to pressure the Indian government to release and rehabilitate these children."


                    Read the full report:-

                    [This message has been edited by Malik73 (edited June 26, 2000).]


                      i believe that there were set of hindus who were forced to stay during partition. i read that the cleaners and sweepers in some towns are dominantly christians and hindus. similarly, agricultural bonded labor was not allowed to leave.


                        ZZ - to an extent your views are correct, but would you like to balance your argument with your views about the 15 million bonded Child labourers in India? before I start giving you facts on the status of low-class Muslims AND others in India??


                          My Pak behen bhaiyoN. I think we should agree with Rani and ZZ on this issue. It is time to let go of these hindu customs like bonded labour and caste system. This sort of treatment might be acceptable in India with the Brahmin/Shudra mindset, but as muslims, we should see to it that our minorities are treated fairly and not exploited like some 'neevi zaat' scum as might be the case in India.


                            dont be so worried mr. xtreme, keeping slaves is perfectly islamic.


                              And from now on we’ll keep religions out of discussions!