Pakistan People's Party (PPP) co-chairman, Asif Ali Zardari seems to have found trouble where none existed. A statement - ostensibly from the co-chairman - surfaced on Tuesday saying that the Chief of Army Staff's decision not to extend his tenure is "premature" and following the inevitable storm of criticism it was quickly retracted. Misguided statements and retractions are everyday stuff in political circles, but following this specific one, PPP has gone into overdrive trying to distance it's distant leader from the statement. Were it not for such frantic backtracking, perhaps the media would have not picked on it to the extent that it has. Now the vicious cycle has been established; PPP are promising "investigations" and legal action, the media has dubbed it a "mystery", dubious experts are chipping in with inside scoops - and the circus rolls on.

It needs to be understood why the statement deserved criticism, but it must also be understood that this fixation on it is harmful to the country. For the first the media is right on the money; for the leader of PPP - a party built on the opposition of military rule - to propose an unconstitutional extension to a military leader's tenure is a back stab to party principles, especially when the Chief himself wants to step down. Perhaps it was a ill-thought out attempt at brokering closer relations with the military, perhaps it was a flippant remark meant to highlight the amount of work that still needs to be done in the Tribal Belt - the truth may never be known. But a retraction is meant to solve all that. It means the statement is meaningless, and observers must move on.

Yet the talk show media lingers unnecessarily - it must be a slow news week. It continues to treat it as a matter of national importance, which it is clearly not. The Chief of Army Staff drew widespread praise for declaring his intention to keep to his tenure and thus ending uncertainty and establishing a good precedent. Making the extension a talking point again undermines all those gains and hints at future instability. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari must be commended for telling their parties to not comment on the matter from now on; it may be born of selfish reasons but it will help move the media on to issues of actual national importance.