It is political crunch time and issues from the past are flying about with abandon. In need of a quick popularity boost, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has decided to take a kick at an old and (questionably) vanquished rival, the former Chief of Army Staff and President Pervez Musharraf. Not one for taking kicks lying down, the former general, through his spokespersons, has fired back his own version of events which predictably paints him the victor and the Prime Minister the vanquished. What results is petty conflict, fuelled more by vague notions of honour and ego than any constructive issues, as we wait and watch when this distraction will end.

It starts with Nawaz Sharif – in precarious territory awaiting the Panama verdict – diving into an unsubstantiated anecdote while talking to Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) leadership, where he claims that Pervez Musharraf had offered him an “underhanded” deal to form a joint government in 2008 which he rejected because he doesn’t do underhand deals. Follows an account of the family’s exile – comfortable by standards of most of the world, but described as “miserable” by the Prime Minister – and the story of the family’s return. The kicker being; now Nawaz Sharif is in Pakistan and Pervez Musharraf in exile. The reversal of roles may embolden party supporters, but does nothing to hide all the other problems it is mired in.

For Musharraf’s response, All-Pakistan Muslim League (APML) member Ahmed Raza Kasuri, was first to deny the whole incident, and then tried to justify his exile as something noble. Apparently the Sharifs “fled like thieves”, while Musharraf left “amid fanfare”. The reality – in which the former general left in the middle of the night protected by an army convoy after much negotiation– clashes with his idea of a glorious exit, and the fact that he remains outside the country to avoid cases against him also disabuses the self-proclaimed notion of the “brave general”. Musharraf promised to come back and face trial – yet here we are.

At the end of the day however, none of this matters at all. It was a bare-faced attempt by the Prime Minister to secure some moral capital before the Panama verdict comes crashing in and a delusional and egotistical response from the former president to salvage some honour. Outside these confines, this conflict affects nothing; and nor should it.