Once again, former president Pervez Musharraf is in sharp focus. And this time he may prove to be a costly pawn for Nawaz Sharif and his cohorts.
The sectarian mayhem on Ashura day in Rawalpindi, which occurred despite the supposed deployment of unprecedented security, blew the cover off the establishment's pretence of making law and order its top priority.
Hence, in a swift bid to distract the nation and the international press corps, the interior minister dropped an unexpected clangor with the announcement that the government will try Musharraf for treason.
The minister disclosed this at an emergency press conference where the media was anxious for details regarding last Friday's sectarian carnage, and ensuing curfew. However, what complicates matters is the predictability of their target - Musharraf. Other than escapism, it reeks of vengeance.
Trying Musharraf for the emergency imposed in November 2007 will not be easy. In their rush to evade the media set to pounce on the government, they overlooked key facts: it does not bring Musharraf down alone but involves an entire battery of corps commanders, governors, top leaderships of all armed forces, and the then prime minister, to name just a few.
Other than being a hurried diversion, this sudden volte-face also sends out a dangerous message - that Sharif may be marking his independence by taking the military on - and that, after Musharraf walks free, there will be a clear rift between him and the army.
Second, why stir a hornet's nest now? It is a time when the public demands a remedy and answers for last week's bloodbath and ongoing security threats.
Therefore, this step has not only come across as a sad attempt to paper over an ineffective leadership, it has also posed an impossible predicament before Sharif - the one area that Pervez Musharraf can face trial for is his coup in October, 1999.
Meanwhile, the escalation in Musharraf's popularity graph is the stuff of fiction. He has been catapulted to the status of a liberal messiah and an emblem of honesty – all elements that lend more credence to the charge of a personal vendetta against Nawaz Sharif.