US Doesn’t Understand Pakistan’s Motive Two Decades After 9/11

Pakistan’s Real Motive in Sponsoring Terrorism and Reviving the Dominated Taliban (Udaipur-based foreign and defense policy-related think tank) The Usanas Foundation organized an international conference, “Maharana Pratap Annual Security Dialogue”, from January 10 to 13. The theme of the conference was “Transnational Terrorism in the 21st Century and the Global Response to Counterterrorism”.

The dialogue was organized in partnership with the Indian Council on Global Affairs, MEA. This global conference hosted 25 leading international experts from more than nine countries, including the United States, Israel, Australia, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Afghanistan, Singapore and Europe.

Day 1 of the conference was opened by Amb. Naor Gilon, Israel’s Ambassador to India, emphasized how counter-terrorism plays a huge role in India-Israel cooperation on strategic and security issues. The two countries are celebrating 30 years of diplomatic relations between India and Israel this year, however, the civilizational ties are 2000 years old. Praising India’s rich cultural heritage of secularism and tolerance, he said the Jewish community has never faced persecution and oppression in India. The two nations share similar ideas and plan to cooperate in the future also with regard to terrorism.

The first session of the day was dedicated to “Assessing 20 Years of the Global War on Terror: Successes and Failures”. Some of the speakers included Amb. Anil Trigunayat, former Indian Ambassador to Libya and Malta, Dr. Michael Ruben, former Pentagon official, also shared his remarks on US counterterrorism operations.

In the second session, experts such as Lt. Gen. Ata Hasnain and Dr. Yoram Schweitzer, an Israeli intelligence official and former adviser to the Israeli prime minister, deliberated on the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the future of terrorism. Dr. Javid Ahmad, former Afghan Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, also contributed to this session by criticizing Pakistan’s support for the Taliban and religious fundamentalism of the latter group.

During the evening session on the issue of terrorist financing, Dr Dalbir Ahlawat from Macquarie University in Australia, and Dr Tal Pavel from the Israeli company CyBureau elucidated different channels of terrorist financing such as proxy charities and cryptocurrencies. Dr. Abhinav Pandya, Founder and CEO of Usanas Foundation spoke about the terrorist financing scenario in Kashmir. He detailed how Pakistani-backed terrorist organizations siphon funds from development projects and use traveling students to transfer funds.

Renowned terrorism expert Dr. Rohan Gunaratna delivered the keynote address on the second day. He said it was important to look at developments in Afghanistan to understand the global threat landscape. About the developments in Afghanistan, he said “it’s not just the rebirth of the Taliban, it’s more of a rebirth of the Taliban and al-Qaeda.” He also stressed the need to tackle the Muslim exclusivism promoted by Salafist Wahhabism. The key, according to Gunaratna, is to promote “a local and tolerant Islam” that will not support the extremist ideologies behind extremist Islamist terrorism.

The first session of Day 2 focused on radicalization in South Asia. Dr. Tara Kartha and Michael Kugelman gave presentations on the spread of divisive ideologies in the region and the need to ensure that these ideologies do not hijack religions. Other speakers, such as Pratap Heblikar, Marian Duris and Dr Arabinda Acharya spoke about different aspects of radicalization.

The second session of the day focused on counter-radicalization and de-radicalization. Dr. Malkanthi Hettiarachchi spoke about his work on de-radicalizing terrorists. Dr. Malkanthi insists on the return of the radicals to the values ​​of moderation and inclusiveness. Dr. Jolene Jerard also spoke about her community engagement work which aims to nip terrorism in the bud by addressing its underlying factors and attitudes.

The third day began with a session on “The Role of Think Tanks and Research in Counterterrorism”. Dr. Tricia Bacon, a researcher from Washington DC, and Dr. Ely Karmon, from ICT-Herzliya in Israel, spoke about their experiences working in think tanks in the United States and Israel, respectively. They also commented on researchers’ contributions to policy-making and related challenges.

The next session was devoted to India’s counterterrorism cooperation with the United States and Israel. Dr. Ely Karmon spoke about India-Israel cooperation in the fight against terrorism and what India can gain from Israel’s advances in defense technology and knowledge of counter-terrorism techniques. Dr. L. Venkatswaran also spoke about Indo-American convergences in the fight against terrorism.

The final session focused on “Challenges and the way forward”. VIF Chairman and former NSA Deputy Arvind Gupta stressed the need to focus on the strategic aspects of terrorism. This includes an international legal consensus on what defines a terrorist and a United Nations convention on combating terrorism. Furthermore, he called for more attention to be paid to state-sponsored terrorism.

The farewell ceremony for the dialogue was held in Udaipur on January 13, attended by Tejendra Khanna, the former LG of Delhi, as the chief guest. Khanna said supporters of terrorism were spreading false notions about religion and that there should be efforts to harmonize religions, especially by religious leaders and youth. He urged the UN to come up with a legal charter against radicalization, which all countries should eventually sign and India must take ownership of.

Abhinav Pandya (CEO of the Usanas Foundation), in his closing remarks, highlighted the growing threat of terrorism and fundamentalism, especially after the return of the Taliban. He said that even after 20 years of war on terror, the United States could not understand Pakistan’s real motive. He further called for a greater role of Indian civilizational values ​​and thoughts in policy-making and reflected on the vitality of the corporate sector in national security.

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