When Pakistan caught alleged RAW agent Kulbhushan Jadhav red-handed, there were several strategic options available to the country. Eventually, Pakistan decided to use Jadhav as a tool to demonstrate its magnanimity and benevolence to the world, but what the country perhaps did not realize at the time was that it could have used him to apply pressure on India and take one step forward in the liberation of Kashmir.
While the strategy adopted by Pakistan had its merits and certainly led to a brilliant victory against India on the propaganda front, Pakistan may have been able to use Jadhav, and the secrets he held, to pressurize India to lessen its restrictions in Kashmir and allow more freedom. Pakistan could have negotiated Jadhav’s return, or more transparent access than already provided, to India in return for India’s, for example, a lifting of curfew in Kashmir or a decrease in the crackdown in the valley. Naturally, India values the spy only so much when compared to the decades-old Kashmir Conflict so there’s only a certain degree of concessions the country would have been ready to make. However, the presence of Jadhav, an Indian national, and his death sentence have caused India great embarrassment on the international stage.
With the right kind of diplomacy, Pakistan could have used India’s obsession with its international image, especially as a rising global power, to negotiate better treatment of the Kashmiri people. Perhaps then the current Kashmir conflict, which has escalated significantly in its human rights abuses over the past few years, could have been averted or at least reduce casualties. Simultaneously, Pakistan could have created a more fertile ground for the liberation of the Kashmiri people under a political settlement.
Instead, however, the Kulbhushan Jadhav fiasco has devolved into the two subcontinental neighbors trying to score political points with the rest of the world, each alleging that the other is trying to play the international community with its lies. In doing so, while Pakistan certainly made a show of its magnanimity and generosity, it failed to extract any significant practical gains from the capture of an alleged RAW agent on Pakistani soil.