NEW YORK - Pakistan, where politics has long been a matter of pedigree, is urbanising fast, and powerful forces of change are chipping away at the landed aristocracy, according to a leading American newspaper. In a dispatch from Muzaffargarh, The New York Times attributed MNA Jamshed Dastis rise to a broad shift in political power in Pakistan. The scrappy son of an amateur wrestler, Mr Dasti has clawed his way into Pakistans Parliament, beating the wealthy, landed families who have ruled here, correspondent Sabrina Tavernise wrote. In elite circles, The Times pointed out, Mr Dasti is reviled as a thug, a small-time hustler with a fake college degree who represents the worst of Pakistan today. But here, he is hailed as a hero, living proof that in Pakistan, a poor man can get a seat at the rich mens table. The dispatch said, For generations, politics took place in the parlours of a handful of rich families, a Westernised elite that owned large tracts of land and sometimes even the people who worked it. But Pakistan is urbanising fast, and powerful forces of change are chipping away at the landed aristocracy, known in Pakistan as the feudal class. The result is a changing political landscape more representative of Pakistani society, but far less predictable for the United States. Mr Dasti, 32, speaks no English. His legislative record includes opposition to a sexual harassment bill. He has 35 criminal cases to his name and is from the countrys conservative heartland, where dislike of America runs deep. How this plays out is crucial to Pakistans future. The countrys fast-expanding, flood-weary population needs local government as never before, but with political power shifting and institutions stillborn, the state has never been less able to provide it... In Mr Dastis area, one of the hardest hit by the recent flooding, the state has all but disappeared. Not that it was ever very present. In the British colonial era, before Pakistan became a separate country, the state would show up a few times a month in the form of a representative from the Raj dispensing justice. Later, the local landowner took over. For years, feudal lords reigned supreme, serving as the police, the judge and the political leader. Plantations had jails, and political seats were practically owned by families. Instead of midwifing democracy, these aristocrats obstructed it, ignoring the needs of rural Pakistanis, half of whom are still landless and desperately poor more than 60 years after Pakistan became a state. But changes began to erode the aristocrats power. Cities sprouted, with jobs in construction and industry. Large-scale farms eclipsed old-fashioned plantations. Vast hereditary lands splintered among generations of sons, and many aristocratic families left the country for cities, living beyond their means off sales of their remaining lands. Mobile labour has also reduced dependence on aristocratic families. In Punjab, the countrys most populous province, and its most economically advanced, the number of national lawmakers from feudal families shrank to 25 percent in 2008 from 42 percent in 1970, according to a count conducted by Mubashir Hassan, a former finance minister, and The New York Times. Mr Dasti, a young, impulsive man with a troubled past, is much like the new Pakistan he represents. He is one of seven siblings born to illiterate parents. Despite his claims of finishing college, he never earned a degree, something his political opponents used against him in court this spring. One of the 35 criminal cases against him is for murder, a charge he said was leveled by his political opponents. Detractors accuse him of blackmailing rich people in a job at a newspaper. He said he was writing exposTs. I have more enemies than numbers of hairs in my head, he was quoted as saying. They dont like my style, and I dont like theirs. Correspondent Tavernise wrote, Whatever the case, he is deeply appealing to Pakistanis, who have chosen him over feudal lords for political seats several times. Local residents call him Rescue One-Five, a reference to an emergency hot line number and his feverish work habits. Constituents clutching dirty plastic bags of documents flock to his small office for help, and he scribbles out notes for them on his Parliament letterhead like a doctor in a field hospital... He wields his lower-class background like a weapon, exhorting local residents to oppose the rich elite and the mafias of landlords, bureaucrats and other petty power brokers who support them... The changes have steered Pakistan into uncharted territory, and the effect for the United States is unclear. Unlike Ahmed Mehmoud, an aristocrat in South Punjab, who is unabashedly pro-American, newcomers like Mr Dasti are more sceptical. Mr Dasti opposes the American drone programme that is used to attack militants in Pakistan, but he is not as virulently anti-American as many in his country... So far, Islamists have not tapped popular frustration in a systematic way at the ballot box, and the military, the countrys oldest, strongest institution, would probably put down any broader uprising, analysts say. But the floods and the misery they have brought have raised the stakes. If you dont give the common man justice, there will be more terrorism and even bloody revolution, Dasti was quoted as saying. This is the need of the hour.