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Your Thursday Briefing: Rising Militancy in Pakistan

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The Pakistani Taliban initially denied playing a part in Monday’s suicide bombing in Pakistan, which killed at least 101 people in the city of Peshawar. A faction of the group has since claimed responsibility, raising fears that instability and militancy could return To the city.

The devastating attack on a mosque in a heavily guarded neighborhood added to evidence that the Pakistani Taliban are regaining strength from safe havens in Afghanistan. In 2014, the group carried out a massacre at a school in Peshawar, a provincial capital near the border. That energized a Pakistani military offensive, which sent most of its fighters and other militants out of the region. Since 2015, the city has been relatively calm.

Now, the Taliban are back in power in Afghanistan. They have covertly supported the Pakistani Taliban for years — a regional expert told The Times that the group’s leadership is based in Afghanistan — and have refused to help Pakistan rein them in. As negotiations stalled, the Pakistani Taliban regrouped and have begun flooding back into Pakistan’s northwest.

Quotable: “It seems that suicide bombing and terrorism have returned,” said a rickshaw driver in Peshawar.

What’s next: The attack came during a time of economic and political upheaval in Pakistan, which has consumed the country’s leaders. Few think they are equipped to respond right now.

Adani Enterprises, the flagship of the Indian conglomerate Adani Group, called off its $2.5 billion share sale yesterday. It cited “market volatility” as it struggles to overcome a plunge in its value set off by fraud allegations last week.

That’s a flip: On Tuesday, the sales closed after a nail-biting process. It was fully subscribed by investors, including state-led institutions like Abu Dhabi’s International Holding Company and funds controlled by the State Bank of India.

But yesterday shares in Adani Enterprises fell sharply, pushing its price well below the range it offered to investors in the sale. Other Adani Group companies have also dropped in value. Shareholders in these companies have seen more than $90 billion in market value wiped out.

Background: Hindenburg Research, a US-based short seller, has accused the group of running “a brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud scheme”. in part through offshore tax shelters.

Gautam Adani: Last year, the billionaire founder saw his net worth skyrocket to around $120 billion, Now, after the sell-off, he is no longer Asia’s richest man,

Ukrainian officials have been bracing for weeks for a new Russian offensive that could rival the opening of the war. Now, they are warning that the campaign is underway.,

Bakhmut, a city in eastern Ukraine, is a center for heavy fighting. As Russia tries to gain its first significant victory in months, it’s pouring troops into the eastern city in a bloody campaign to break Ukraine’s resistance and target its supply lines.

Russian deaths in recent fighting in Bakhmut have increased, according to Ukrainian sources. And many Ukrainian soldiers have also died in the battle. That represents a change in approach — Ukraine once had qualms about engaging directly in a drawn-out fight for a city,

Russia: Moscow’s fighters — many of them recruited from prisons by the Wagner private military group — have often fought on foot, an expert said, which contributed to the heavy losses.

Ukraine: Kyiv has mostly relied on the national guard and other forces to hold its main defensive line. Better-trained infantry units rushed in if those fighters were attacked or retreated.

A pricey golf club in Hong Kong is fighting a government proposal to use a fraction of its land for public housing in what is one of the most unaffordable housing markets in the world.

The dispute is dividing the city’s elites. Beijing is pushing Hong Kong to close its wealth gap, and business leaders are often aligned with the Communist Party. But many are also members of the club, which charges a $2 million entry fee, and is fiercely protective of the city’s capitalist wealth.

East Asia is just starting to unravel its pandemic mask restrictions. South Korea dropped its indoor mandate on Monday. Taiwan is planning to jettison its mandate, and Japan is set to loosen its widely followed masking recommendations.

But even as governments ease rules, people in East Asia are likely to keep their masks up, Notably, health officials still recommend masks, at least for now, and masks signal good etiquette and respect for others’ well-being. Two years of restrictions have also deepened a habit that predates Covid. Air pollution is a factor, especially in China and South Korea.

On a superficial level, masks can ease societal pressures, and they have relieved many South Koreans of the pressure to maintain a level of facial beauty. In Japan, some even call masks “kao pantsu,” or “face pants,” suggesting that unmasking would be akin to unpantsing in public.

One teacher in Yokohama said that her students’ mask “just like they reflexively bow their heads when seeing an elder. Without a mask on, they feel something is missing.”

This charred broccoli rabe is inspired by Spanish ajo blanco soup, also known as white gazpacho.

Eve Ensler, the creator of “The Vagina Monologues,” confronts racism and violence in “Reckoning,” a raw, free-associative collection.


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