The discussion on madaris in Pakistan has always been, and still is polarised. There essentially are three parties in the discussion: the state, society and the madaris themselves. The state has a love and hate relationship with these religious establishments. Both sides loved each other when they shared a common vision vis-à-vis Islamisation of Pakistan. Exercising institutional controls over the Pakistani population in the name of Islam, and waging war on the region and sometimes around the world. This has always been, and still is piggybacking for either side’s social and political objectives. The party that fails to achieve what it set out to achieve screams louder when an outcome does not match its expectations. The naïve people of Pakistan, interpret that temporary noise as differences amongst the two strange bedfellows. Society has been divided on this subject, and still is. People who saw these establishments via the lens of religion have always been in bigger in numbers in Pakistan. Irrespective of the social, economic, political, ethnic and professional divides, you find people from across society supporting everything the madaris say or do. For this vast majority of Pakistanis, madaris are furthering the mindset of Islam. Since no genuine debate can occur on the topic, discussions about their accountability, mainstreaming or transparency are not considered. The states Western supporters and the nefarious triangle of conspirators, Jews, Christians and Hindus are also involved in this. Lately, there have been Afghans also included in this triangle. On the other hand, there are people in the intellectual, social and media mainstream who would blame madaris for anything, and everything under the sun. If a trajectory could permit, they would conveniently blame madaris even for shortage of subsoil water and the glacial increase in Pakistan. ‘Madaris did it’ is what has become a cyclic tantrum of the so-called liberal perspective for nearly 15-years now. The narrative from the so-called liberal mainstream, who confuse blue-collar lifestyle of the West considering it liberalism, wanted and currently want an annihilation of the religious institutions. This could be termed a tsunami of passion, with hardly any compassion. Madaris share a larger portion of the responsibility as they have pushed away nearly every move from any external actor that does not align with their leaderships agendas Previously, madaris were hardly debated. They are now hotly debated particularly after then military dictator, General Pervez Musharraf promulgated “Pakistan Madaris Education (Establishment and Affiliation of Modern Deeni Madaris) Board, Ordinance, 2001” in an attempt to modernise the madrassa curriculum by introducing subjects like maths, computer science, English, economics and political science . Then another ‘Voluntary Registration and Regulation Ordinance, 2002’ was promulgated that highlighted the government’s desire to exercise a unilateral and a non-inclusive control. After promulgating these two ordinances, his government quickly cranked up a huge Madaris Reforms Project in 2002 with an allocation of over 5 billion rupees earmarked for five years. Since, most public discourse sang to please the king, there were hardly any voices to inform him that politically and socially inclusive problems must always have politically and socially inclusive solutions. The third party to this triangle, the madaris are no less responsible for the situation they, society and the State are simmering in together. They have stubbornly rejected almost any and every effort of their upgradation. Their leaders have been dodgy in dealing with the state and the society, and have rather focused more on solidifying their personal positions and increasing their possessions. Instead of a sincere introspection and demonstrating a will to reform, madaris nearly-always lobbed strange conspiratorial political and social narratives in the public that are grounded in religious fevour, and not in reason. In my view, madaris share a larger portion of the responsibility as they have pushed away nearly every move from any external actor that does not align with their leaderships agendas. They have been part of the problem, but they could have been part of the solution. As we speak in 2017, the State has deployed most of the carrot-and-stick tactics that it had in its legal and administrative arsenal: madrassa registration drives, campaigns to get their accounts audited, reformation of the curriculum, mainstreaming via providing exposure (to a chosen few), and creating a parallel Pakistan Madrassa Education Board. The society is as divided on the madaris as it was a decade ago. Only now in reaction, the proponents of violent extremism are also popping out from the erstwhile peace-loving Brelvis. The polarisation has increased. The near-total annihilation that the so-called liberals sought and seek did not and shall not happen. The madaris are as wayward as they were 15 years ago. They are producing graduates who do not have much purpose to the society other than becoming a prayer leader or supporting their own sect. This has become a cyclic dilemma that should start changing. The writer is a social entrepreneur and a student of Pakistan’s social and political challenges. He tweets at @mkw72 Published in Daily Times, October 17th 2017.