Countries are assumed to be rational, but some still end up cutting off their nose to spite a face. What better example than Pakistan. In recent days, it has upped the shrillness of its war rhetoric. On Thursday, it test-fired a 290-km range missile. India, the weapon’s obvious target, asked Pakistan to behave like a “normal neighbour". But it seems determined not to. Not even when it faces the brunt of its own actions. What could explain Islamabad’s repeated threats to close off its airspace for international flights en route to destinations in India? According to at least one calculation, the last time it closed its airspace, amid tensions of the Balakot air strike, it incurred a loss of nearly $100 million. It was global airlines that had most to complain. Very few Indians were affected, and all they lost was an extra hour or so spent airborne, and maybe a little money on slightly higher airfares.
Even as a symbolic protest against India, closing its airspace would be pointless for Pakistan. The trouble is that ever since India revoked the special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir, the Pakistani government has been under political pressure to snap off bilateral ties. It might play well with the multitudes of that country, but that doesn’t mean it makes sense.
Pakistan’s economy is in deep distress and it is discovering that it has fewer friends in high places across the world than it had bargained for. It would be best if its leadership calmed down.