One would have thought that with the country at war, our politicians – always so egotistical and yet so insecure – would put to the side their usual bickering if only just for a moment. One would, of course be wrong. The two members of Nawaz Sharif’s cabinet most crucial to the war effort are at each other’s throats, vying for power, influence and the ear of the prime minister.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has been firing the most shots, selectively leaking to the media his anger at Defence Minister Khawaja Asif. He isn’t even trying to hide the fact that his only real disagreement with Asif is the fact that the defence minister has seemingly become more important than himself. This is a fight not over important matters of state, policy and ideology. It is a temper tantrum.

Nawaz was never going to let Nisar go, and Nisar – his indignant mutterings to the media aside – was never going to leave. While a change in personnel right now at the interior ministry would be inconvenient, especially with the TTP determined to strike back at any time, Nisar has shown himself to be no better than his predecessor – the bumbling Rehman Malik. His absence from the National Assembly during the debate over the dictatorial Protection of Pakistan Bill as he sulked over his less exalted status was a gross dereliction of duty.

Nisar’s clash of egos with Asif engulfed the whole party, with the Sharif brothers having to spend hours placating the interior minister. Nisar has always been part of Shahbaz’s camp while Asif is closer to Nawaz. Ishaq Dar, who technically should be concerned only with the finance ministry but has his fingers in every pie, has maintained good relations with everyone in the party and Nisar isn’t happy about that either. He would like Dar to be brought down a notch or two as well.

Nisar may be back at work but the hatchet isn’t buried yet and he will surely try to oust Asif again, not caring a whit that a change at the defence ministry while the operation in North Waziristan is ongoing may not be in the country’s interest.

It is not just within the government that petty fights are playing out for no reason other than to satiate the immense egos of our ruling class. In a war that one wishes both could lose, Imran Khan and Arsalan Iftikhar have taken mudslinging to a new low.

Iftikhar, an enthusiast of Monte Carlo’s casinos, blames the PTI chief for losing his cushy sinecure at the Balochistan Investment Board. Having lost his job, he now believes it only fair that Imran lose his. His attempted method? The infamous morals clause that all parliamentarians must pretend to pass but none can. He chose to go the Sita White route to try and get Imran kicked out of parliament – and receives bonus trolling points for accusing Imran of lying about how many dependents he has on his nomination forms.

Imran is facing the prospect of legal action from Arsalan’s father Iftikhar Chaudhry too. In his ability to see dark conspiracies where none exist, Imran accused the former chief justice of involvement in rigging. While Imran pretends to be a man of deep conviction, he backed away from this charge when it looked like he could end up in the dock for contempt of court. Now that Chaudhry has retired the accusations have been renewed.

Libel action is beckoning and it couldn’t be initiated against a more deserving target. Imran is a person who is unwilling to give anyone but himself the benefit of the doubt and always looks for the basest motives possible. That he cloaks his character assassination in a sheet of self-righteousness only makes his actions more unbearable.

All of this may seem irrelevant and separate from the more consequential Nisar and Asif spat but keep in mind that Imran is head of the party that is governing Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The overwhelming majority of the nearly 600,000 people displaced by the military operation are in his province.

He needs to be working with the central government to help them out rather than cry about not being in the central government himself. He needs to leave the Iftikhars alone and worry about the province that entrusted his party with power but will surely regret doing so should its leader continue to play the martyr.

With Nisar now grudgingly back at work he must prepare for the next fight that threatens to overshadow our prosecution of the war in North Waziristan. Tahirul Qadri is here and he is not going to leave the government in peace. He claims to support the operation but he wants to overthrow the government. This menace to democracy will inhale all the media oxygen but the government needs to treat him like the sideshow that he is. The last thing the country needs is yet another smug politician creating a distraction.

The writer is a journalist based in Karachi. Email: nadir.hassan@gmail.com