This dissertation explores governance in Pakistan through a study of the state-run electrical power sector. At both the micro and macro level, the Pakistani power sector provides a lens into the heart of the Pakistani state and its governance institutions. This ethnographic and historical study offers an in-depth look at state operations in a developing country, situates the current Pakistani power crisis in a larger context of continuity through periods of dictatorship and democracy, and suggests how efforts to make state service delivery more responsive to citizens might be reconceived. A historical review of the Pakistani power sector establishes first and foremost that the current crisis is the product of longer-term processes for which the policy solutions currently being proposed (with the support of international donors and multilateral lenders) are inadequate. Depoliticized attempts at power sector reform have little to offer in light of the pervasively informal and negotiated nature of the fragmented Pakistani state. The institutions of power sector governance are mutually constituted by the formal rules and the informal - personal relationships, language, violence, money, and power. These rules of the game are as relevant to relations within and between public sector organizations as they are to the engagement of citizens with their state. The same rules apply at the margins of the state - informal squatter settlements - as at the core, though the resources brought to bear and the resultant outcomes are different. The internal incoherence of this state underscores the limitations of formal rules in determining outcomes, and the poor prospects for reform efforts that focus exclusively on the formal aspects of governance. To proactively engage with the question of political will leads away from top-down policy perspectives and counter to the depoliticizing tendencies that currently shape policy reforms. Instead, an energized and informed local participation can be a counterweight to the inertial tendencies of a Pakistani state whose reforms tend to be co-opted by existing power centers rather than result in changed outcomes.