Feudalism in Pakistan

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Introduction:-

The Zamindarana Nizam or Feudal system is a phenomenon that has affected Pakistan’s history time and again; sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. There are many salient features of the Feudal system in Pakistan. They are large landholdings by joint families; Lambardari of the local landlord family, work done by peasants or mazeras, complete rule of the landlord in the vicinity and often its surroundings too, debt bondage and sometimes absentee landlordism. The Pakistani feudal system is compatible with the European medieval feudal system where a large proportion of the production of the subsistence farmer would go to the landlord as homage. The Indian caste system is also similar to the hierarchy of the medieval European feudal pyramid expect for the fact there a person from a lower rank could be promoted to a higher rank by proving his worth unlike India where a Pandit’s son will grow up to be a Pandit and a Shudra’s son is deemed to be a servant for the rest of his life. There are also some similarities with the Japanese feudal system. In this research we will delve into the intricacies of the matter and will ascertain the reason for the phenomenon of feudalism and its effects on Pakistani society in general.

The European Feudal Model:-

We have to see the similarities between the Indian Feudal Model and the European feudal model because a lot of people confuse one with another. It will also be easier to study the Indian feudal system because it was a forerunner of the modern Pakistani feudal system. The European feudal system was based on homage to one’s feudal lord because of the fact that he protects the plebian from external threat by serving in the military.

If we want to study the European feudal model we have to grasp the idea of the King, the Lord, the vassal and the peasant. The King was the sovereign barring exceptions in some cases, all the feudal barons and others were knighted by the King so that they would pledge allegiance to the King. Pledging allegiance to the King meant that many of the feudal lords were required to serve in the military. As a result the profession of an Army Officer up till world war two remained largely a feudal profession. Almost all Earls, Dukes, Viscounts and Barons served in the army or Navy as officers; a tradition that continues to this day as we can see both the sons of Charles, the Prince of Wales serving in the military. Another way how an ordinary man could work up the hierarchy was by proving himself in battle. Once the man would do so, he would be awarded with land by the King called “fief”. This would make him a landowner and he would then be required to swear an “Oath of Fealty”, the literal meaning of fealty is fidelity.

Once the feudal pledged allegiance to the King he was made head of his area. The entire medieval Europe fell into some sort of a pyramid of hierarchy; with the head of everything being the Pope and the Clergy. The Pope was responsible for a lot and he would often appoint Prices in an around the area of modern Italy. Cesare Borgia is one such example of people appointed by Pope Alexander the Sixth, his father. The Church was known for its nepotism and this is why the Great Schism or the Western Schism and the Protestant Reformation took place. The Church’s corruption knew no bounds at times. Alexandre Dumas once said that “Christianity assumed a pagan character”. This is exactly what he was talking about. The Church has absolute power. Then came the Monarchs, then the Knights and Vassals, the business people were next and finally there were the peasants and the serfs.

This has a lot of similarities with the Indian caste system. There were basically four Varnas. The Brahmins were the highest and they were the equivalent of the Clergy of those days, then there were the Kshatriyas who were a lot like Knights of the European feudal model and Samurais of the Japanese feudal system, then were the Vaishyas who...
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