It has often been said that Pakistan likes to negotiate holding a gun to its head. Add to that: With its mouth shooting off. Pakistan foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s crude diatribe against Prime Minister Narendra Modi invoking Osama bin Laden may not affect India but it shows how unhinged the leader of the Pakistan People’s Party is from the imperatives of diplomacy. Governments may target other governments for one or another reason, but personal attacks are rare, and are made perhaps only when it has been decided that the relationship is better broken.

In Pakistan’s case, it is not clear if that decision has been made. Bilawal is part of a coalition government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz). After Imran Khan’s ouster, it was hoped that the two countries would be able to draw a line under a period marked by the former prime minister’s personal invective against Modi. Bilawal’s remarks have firmly turned the clock back.

It is academic now if the young foreign minister did this on his own to burnish his political credentials as a hardliner on India (to compete in this race to the bottom with Imran Khan) or he simply mouthed lines from the “militablishment”, now under a new leadership. For its part, the PML(N), whether in or out of government, has always been a votary of normalising ties with India, only to see its vision of peace with India thwarted each time an opportunity presented itself to reach out. The saboteurs are usually one or the other of the security establishment-nurtured cross-border terrorist groups; this time, it is a cabinet minister. Pakistan’s leaders may presume it is easy to walk back from the more outrageous of their statements made for the benefit of domestic audiences. Imran Khan, who surfed a massive wave of popularity with his allegation of a Biden administration conspiracy behind his ouster, now says the accusation is “behind” him. But it is never easy to pedal back from the damage that has been done.

In any case, Indian diplomacy is Pakistan-proofing itself. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two countries Pakistan describes as its “Biradar” nations, have better terms with India than with Pakistan. Soon, India may sell a Brahmos missile to Indonesia, the third largest Muslim nation after Pakistan and India. Even Turkey’s President Recep Tayeb Erdogan, a persistent India-baiter, seems to have called a truce with Modi after their ice-breaker meeting at the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation. Pakistan must consider if it runs the risk of isolating itself with its thoughtless diplomacy, and of thinking that this can somehow mask the reality of the terrorist groups its army spawned on its soil towards realising its strategic objectives in the region. The consequences on Pakistan are all too evident as its constant struggles show, while India and the world have moved on.