In his book, Pakistan — A Hard Country (2011), Professor Anatol Lieven, an eminent professor at the King’s College London, used an interesting term for the Pakistani State: Negotiated State. Although, there have been many interpretations of this interesting idiom, he alone is rightly positioned to elaborate the political connotation of this term. But loosely, the term probably means that in Pakistan, the formal authority of the State is not exercised by the firmness of law and the exactness of the written procedures. Instead, the State’s authority is exercised via a mixed arrangement of political compromise, executive or social pressure and wherever needed, various degrees of different kinds of violence that any modern State is entitled to. In the same book, he pointed out a fascinating phenomenon that collectively the Pakistani society, is much stronger than the State, and that on many occasions, the leadership role on many challenges and issues is assumed by the society. Recently, we observed a countrywide upheaval that became a massive and dangerous issue for the government when a change was proposed in the text of the oath on Finality of Prophethood of Hazrat Muhammad SAW. Rationally and legally, the textual change is the prerogative of the Parliament, as the former text was also approved and enacted by a previous Parliament. But a speech by Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed an MNA from Rawalpindi, first hit the tide of social media and then the mainstream media picked it up. Religious-political parties picked it up also and they started bulldozing the government. Most protesters might not have even read the text, but emotions were high, and this emotional wave effectively pushed the State into the corner. Jamaat-e-Islami’s stance was particularly interesting, they were in the front row of the protest, but were also part of the Parliamentary Committee and its processes in preparing and presenting the text of reviews and subsequent approvals in the Parliament. No political party, least of all PML-N, itself a right of the Center party, could ever commit a folly involving such a sensitive religious issue, but this matter was not even debated. Upon seeing direction of the people’s sentiments, JI conveniently changed its posture also and no one questioned them. Resultantly, the change in the text was hurriedly reversed by the government, and the old text was reinstated. This is what the Pakistani society is capable of when it comes to dictating its terms to a negotiated State on matters in which it takes interest. The society judged. The State budged. JI was in the front row of the protest over changes in the elction reforms law draft, though its MNAs were a part of the committee that reviewed the draft before approval Various political manifestations of Pakistan’s majority religion, Islam, have always been a sensitive topic. The discourse is nearly always emotional, and not rational. And lately, there is also fear of lethal violence that deters even the mildest discussion. This is the outcome of a social narrative that was consistently built for over 40 years creating two generations that are now at the helm of affairs of the Land of the Pure and are unflinchingly unwilling to accept differing views. Resultantly, most Pakistanis come across as insensitive to the subtleties of a civilised discourse on challenging subjects. You find Pakistani Muslims hardly ever concerned about their communities and localities, but would find them gravely attached to the challenges of Muslims in the other parts of the world. There has hardly been a healthy focus on challenges at home, but there has always been an ambitious focus outwards, where successive Pakistani rulers, mostly military, would see themselves as the self-appointed leaders of the Muslim world. Many would not even remember today that Pakistan’s most recent dictator, General Pervez Musharraf once proposed to resolve Israeli-Palestinian dispute exactly at the time when Pakistan was burning in the hellfire of terrorism. If only wishes were horses! Pakistan should have become a modern State after the debacle of East Pakistan in 1971 but this has not happened as we speak. There is a range of simultaneous State laws running, and governing lives of millions of Pakistanis. The pendulum of the state’s action keeps oscillating from banning a range of organisations, and permitting their political mutations to politically mainstream themselves. Whether or not the state should permit politicking to these organisations is a separate debate, but the cohesiveness that united actions of the society should provide to the people of Pakistan is missing. In addition to sarcasm and apathy to the state, “negotiated behavior” causes undue panic and criticism by citizens. But the inherently negotiated nature of the Pakistani state has prevented producing modern political solutions. This must change now, or the Pakistani Dream, if there is any, will remain unfulfilled. The writer is a social entrepreneur and a student of Pakistan’s social and political challenges. Twitter: @mkw72 Published in Daily Times, October 9th 2017.