The triangular relationship between the state, society and madaris (religious seminaries) is amusingly interesting. Through the history of Pakistan, particularly after 1971, These three have worked together but in most cases, either two of these three would work together and leave the third one out. Having failed in delivering a strong political and social contract for a national identity, the state heavily relied on the ‘common religion’ of a majority of Pakistanis after the Dhaka Fall. While doing this, the state conveniently forgot the Justice Munir and Justice Kayani report after the 1953 anti-Ahmadia riots. Despite long hearings from the mainstream leaders of all sects, the leaders and court were unable to determine a definition of a Muslims in the Pakistani context. As the madaris flourished, the state saw their role in promoting the influence of religion in Pakistan as a tool of identity. The society willingly or out of fear condoned the expansion of madaris’ role from that of social places for religious rituals to that of places for political and social engineering that forcibly enforce their sectarian versions of Islam on others In an attempt to create a common identity via the instrument of religion, state rather started a race between the sects who presented their version of sectarian Islam as the ‘truest’ form of the religion. In doing that, they started announcing explicitly against the other what they implicitly believed earlier: takfir (rejecting other Muslims as Muslims). This is where each sect in Pakistan effectively deployed their madaris, and heavily invested in these institutions with assistance from the local and foreign donors. Enterprise of the guilt was thus founded. As the madaris flourished, the state saw their role in promoting the influence of religion in Pakistan as a tool of identity. The society willingly or out of fear condoned the expansion of madaris’ role from being social places for religious rituals to politics, social engineering, violence and tendencies to forcibly enforce their sectarian versions of Islam. It took nearly four decades for madaris to become what they are now in 2017 and during this journey, the state and society chose timings of their choice to meet their political and social objectives. This seesaw of the shifting objectives among the three has done Pakistan harms. As the madaris led the political inevitability of an interpretative religion, the state and society grew weaker. This enabled people of religion to assume roles that weren’t theirs. They established courts, reconciliation centres, financial recovery centres, family dispute-resolution centres, local policing and Sharia-enforcement brigades. They started moon-citing, served as go-between in political and security situations, modified the laws of state, challenged the rulings of the judiciary and rallied for various causes that weren’t their domains. Again, this does not apply to the all cadres of madaris systems. A few representatives sat on the top, enjoyed the view and ruled the institutions that prized tradition over modernity. Now, the madaris and multinational brands of soft drinks could be found even in the remotest hamlets of Pakistan. The former influences the society socially and politically, the latter’s influence is economic. State and society, no matter how terribly detest these both, cannot now push them out of the room nor can they do without the either. It is for a business professional to elaborate multinationals, but on madaris, the state and society must take decisions and fix their focuses once and for all. The bottom line is that neither of these three will be able do anything constructive for Pakistan without the other two. A lot of negative has been done already, and there is no fun in continuing with the stupidity of experimenting with the same ingredients in anticipation of different outcomes. The Pakistani state and society must accept the presence of madaris and should learn to constructively engage with them politically and socially. The civil society actors can play a vital role in doing that. Madaris on the other hand are equally responsible in coming forward, and engage with the state and society as partners. All three have tried in the past to control, change and subjugate the other by force, and all three have failed in achieving their objectives. If this mindset failed to produce any positive result over the past four decades, it shall most definitely fail in the next four. But Pakistan cannot afford to keep running in circles anymore. State must do away with its desire to crush madaris into submission. The society needs to develop an inclusive and respectful approach toward the madaris. The madaris must come out of caves of their conspiratorial mindset and accept the state and society as their partners. All sides must stop misusing the other for political and social objectives. Mutuality and inclusiveness of these three can work. Other than that, the futility of directionless circular motions shall continue. Footnote: This was the last part of six-columns series on the evolution and role of madaris in Pakistan. The writer is a social entrepreneur and a student of Pakistan’s social and political challenges. He tweets at @mkw72 Published in Daily Times, November 20th 2017.