Dr. Nishank Motwani is a Non-Resident Scholar at the Middle East Institute and an Edward B. Mason Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School. He graduated from Harvard Kennedy School with a Master’s in Public Administration and was awarded a PhD in strategic and security studies from the Australian Defence Force Academy, University of New South Wales.
Nishank works on strategic competition, transnational threats, nuclear strategy, irregular warfare, technology, and the political economy of governance and development. He previously held senior executive organizational and advisory roles in Kabul, where he worked on security, countering violent extremism, and political affairs. During his time in Afghanistan, he also served as an independent election observer and covered two presidential and one parliamentary election between 2014 and 2020. Following the collapse of the Afghan government in August 2021, he testified before the Australian Senate, where he examined the dynamics of the terrorism threat flowing from the Taliban’s return to power. 

Nishank has published his research in peer-reviewed journals, edited books, and online channels. These include the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, War on the Rocks, Foreign Policy, The Diplomat, The Interpreter, East Asia Forum, Journal of South Asian Studies, Australian Journal of International Affairs, Strategic Analysis, and more. He is the co-editor of the Routledge book, Afghanistan – Challenges and Prospects. Nishank is finalizing his forthcoming book, Players, Perceptions, and Power, to be published by Palgrave Macmillan. His analysis has received wide coverage and has featured in print, radio and television including in the ABC (Australia), BBC, CNN, The History Channel, The Guardian, Nikkei, Stars and Stripes, South China Morning Post, Straits Times, Reuters, Voice of America, and other outlets.

In addition, Nishank also worked at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs’ Technology and Public Policy Project, where he co-authored reports on the drivers of platform harm and a blueprint for a new government agency on regulating digital platforms and big tech.

Master in Public Administration: Harvard Kennedy School 

PhD: Australian Defence Force Academy, University of New South Wales

Master of Diplomatic Studies: The Australian National University 

Master of Strategic Studies: The Australian National University

Bachelor of Science in Economics: Northeastern University 


Contact Information

Please contact MEI’s communications officer, Elliott Sanders, at emsanders@mei.edu or 202-785-1141 ext. 2503 for assistance contacting this expert.

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