Chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh flanked by Punjab Police chief Dinkar Gupta and American expert on terror and internal security Peter Chalk at the Second KPS Gill Memorial Lecture in Mohali on Wednesday.(Twitter)
Chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh flanked by Punjab Police chief Dinkar Gupta and American expert on terror and internal security Peter Chalk at the Second KPS Gill Memorial Lecture in Mohali on Wednesday.(Twitter)

US terror expert warns Pakistan misusing social media to attack Indian economy

Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By HT Correspondent, Mohali
UPDATED ON DEC 11, 2019 02:33 PM IST

American expert on terror and internal security Peter Chalk on Wednesday said that Pakistan could be harnessing the power of social media to launch attacks on the Indian economy, even as he warned that the ISI “may well leverage encrypted social media sites, secure telecommunication platforms and online mapping technology to covertly facilitate jihadist recruitment drives or directly support terrorist strikes” in Kashmir, where it has a long history of backing anti-Indian outfits.

The best offensive mechanism to deal with Pakistan, suggested the US expert from RAND Corporation, was to work with friendly and partner countries to put pressure on Islamabad, and also to convince these nations that they could not escape the wrath of terror outfits operating from Pakistani soil. He warned that the US was playing a double role with Pakistan because of its strategic interest in Afghanistan – the reason why it wasn’t taking a tougher stand against Islamabad.

TACKLING DRONES, LONE WOLVES

In the context of the growing use of drones and lone wolves to launch attacks, the American expert called for compulsory registration of such technology and legislation to counter the threat.

To ensure credibility in such counter-attacks, it’s important to involve NGOs, human rights organisations and the community at large, he added, noting, in response to a question, that 100% radicalisation could not take place online and human contact was a part of the process. Admitting that such groups become easy targets of extremists, Chalk said that they do not easily succumb to terrorist threats.

In an apparent reference to Referendum 2020, Chalk observed that an intensive social media effort aimed at radicalising young Sikhs was being waged by pro-Khalistani militants based in Pakistan and diaspora groups operating out of the US, UK and Canada. “There are growing indications that the ISI is orchestrating much of this activity as part of a wider campaign to co-join instability in Punjab with unrest in Kashmir,” he warned, while delivering the 2nd KPS Gill Memorial Lecture, on the contemporary subject of ‘Digitised Hate: Online Radicalism, Violent Extremism and Terrorism.’

Chalk suggested that the state government identify vulnerable groups and engage with the community to counter the narrative and fight Pakistan’s proxy war.

CM LAUDS KPS GILL’S LEADERSHIP

In his keynote address, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh pointed out that in the globalised world of today, terror could easily straddle geographical boundaries, with the use of internet and social media further contributing to promoting terror and terror ideology for luring youth, spreading hatred and propaganda.

Pointing to the sensitive location of Punjab as a border state with a hostile neighbour, and the growing challenge of narco terrorism with linkages in Jammu and Kashmir, Amarinder, who was presiding over the programme, stressed on the need for modern-day policing to remain technologically updated and professional in its approach. “We can’t ever allow the state to relive those horrible days it went through…we all know what’s happening again now,” he said.

He lauded the leadership of KPS Gill in Punjab Police and his contribution to bringing peace and normalcy to the state, calling upon the police force to let the late former DGP become a beacon of light to inspire them to become good leaders. Gill’s leadership had been acknowledged throughout India, he observed, telling the officers in the audience that “leadership begins with you”.

In his welcome address, DGP Dinkar Gupta briefly outlined the security scenario and use of internet and social media platforms. He said Punjab Police was continuously building its capacity to meet the twin challenges of radicalism and terrorism.

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