Your Thursday Briefing: Rising Militancy in Pakistan

Peshawar has been a hotbed of conflict for most of the past 40 years.Credit…Arshad Arbab/EPA, via Shutterstock

‘Terrorism has returned’ in Pakistan

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 has returned,” a rickshaw driver in Peshawar said.

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.

Gautam Adani is still seeing his personal fortune shrink as the sell-off continues.Credit…M. Scott Brauer for The New York Times

Adani scraps its offering

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 sale 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.

The State of the War

  • In the East: Russian forces are ratcheting up pressure on the beleaguered city of Bakhmut, pouring in waves of fighters to break Ukraine’s resistance in a bloody campaign aimed at securing Moscow’s first significant battlefield victory in months.
  • Mercenary Troops: Tens of thousands of Russian convicts have joined the Wagner Group to fight alongside the Kremlin’s decimated forces. Here is how they have fared.
  • Sidestepping Sanctions: Russian trade appears to have largely bounced back to where it was before the invasion of Ukraine, as the country’s neighbors and allies step in to fill the gaps left by Western restrictions.
  • Military Aid: After weeks of tense negotiations, Germany and the United States announced they would send battle tanks to Ukraine. But the tanks alone won’t help turn the tide, and Kyiv has started to press Western officials on advanced weapons like long-range missiles and fighter jets.

Background: Hindenburg Research, a U.S.-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.

Russia and Ukraine are each believed to be preparing for larger offensives as warmer spring temperatures arrive.Credit…Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

Deaths spike in Bakhmut

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.


Asia Pacific

Authorities had feared it would take weeks to scour hundreds of miles of an Australian desert highway.Credit…Australian Department of Fire and Emergency Services
  • Australian authorities found the missing radioactive capsule in just six days. Phew.

  • In an effort to fend off China’s tech dominance, the U.S. and India will expand their high-tech cooperation. 

  • Officials from New Zealand and Australia were shocked that FIFA plans to partner with Saudi Arabia as a sponsor for the Women’s World Cup in soccer.

Around the World

  • The U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 0.25 percentage points, its smallest increase in about a year.

  • Britain faced its biggest day of strikes in more than a decade: Up to half a million people walked off the job. 

  • In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pope Francis condemned a cycle of violence.

  • After heavy criticism from Ron DeSantis, Florida’s governor, a leading U.S. servicer of advanced high school courses overhauled its African American Studies curriculum.

Other Big Stories

Tom Brady is widely considered to be the greatest player in N.F.L. history.Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times
  • Tom Brady said he would retire — this time, for good.

  • Over 1.2 million French people protested plans to raise the retirement age to 64 from 62.

  • The two monkeys that went missing from the Dallas Zoo were found inside a closet at an empty home nearby.


  • Even as China moves past its “zero Covid” policies, scars remain from the recent outbreak, Lucy Meng writes.

  • Jessica Grose is seeing a vibe shift in mom content, from glossy perfection to a realer, messier picture of parenting.

  • An American ban on TikTok could create more security problems than it solves, Glenn S. Gerstell argues.

A Morning Read

These impeccable greens, in the northern reaches of Hong Kong, have become an unlikely battleground.Credit…Billy H.C. Kwok for The New York Times

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 fiercely protective of the city’s capitalist wealth.


Why is Asia still wearing masks?

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.”


What to Cook

Credit…David Malosh for The New York Times

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

What to Read

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

What to Watch

Here are three great documentaries to stream.


Think twice before taking melatonin after drinking. 

The Cosmos

Track major events in space this month.

Now Time to Play

Play the Mini Crossword, and a clue: In good shape (five letters).

Here are the Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia

P.S. The U.S. observed the first Groundhog Day in 1887. We’ve covered it a lot in the past 136 years.

“The Daily” is on the U.S. economy.

We’d like your feedback! Please email thoughts and suggestions to [email protected].

Daniel E. Slotnik contributed to this briefing.

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