National policy discussion of poverty and social policy in Pakistan has largely overlooked the conjunction of class and caste as a dimension of social marginalisation. While agrarian class relations are frequently debated with respect to some of the less developed parts of the country, it is widely presumed that the prosperous and politically significant region of central Punjab is relatively free of traditional feudal encumbrances.
Historical records, the rare village study, and current practices with respect to political mobilisation suggest, however, that the class-caste conjunction might be a significant feature of social structure. A homestead land intervention called the Punjab Marla Scheme which was first launched in the early 1970s remains one of the few, perhaps the only, government programme which was self-consciously targeted at the conditions of the most marginalised segments in the class-caste hierarchy of the Punjab village.
This paper presents primary evidence from qualitative research in a number of villages in central Punjab to illustrate the continuing salience of the class-caste conjunction in rural housing and the impact of the Marla Scheme.
Related publication: Social Protection in Asia: Research findings and policy lessons