Letter: Pakistan crippled by feudalism

Sir: I left Pakistan one day ahead of the dismissal of Benazir Bhutto. The news came as no surprise.

I have been visiting Pakistan for 15 years and have never known the people so dispirited about the political, economic and moral state of the country. Life is increasingly difficult for those on salaries and pensions and the rise in the price of basic necessities is disastrous for the poor. Law and order has collapsed in Karachi and corruption is rampant everywhere. Educated young people are angry and frustrated and talk of emigrating.

A simple change of government will solve nothing. While the main parties are dominated by feudal lords who deliver the votes of the peasants who work on their vast estates, elections cannot represent the will of the people. It is the feudal system that lies at the root of the glaring social inequities. The most urgent need is for land reform.

There will have to be a French Revolution before democracy means anything in Pakistan. Meanwhile, it is tragic to watch the breakdown of that beautiful country, potentially so rich in material resources and human talent.

ZOE HERSOV

London NW3

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