Your Monday briefing: dozens dead in Pakistan

Usman Deen
Usman Deen

Global Courant

Deadly explosion at a meeting in Pakistan

At least 43 people were killed in the northwest of the country yesterday, officials said, the latest sign of the deteriorating security situation in Pakistan. The death toll is expected to rise: at least 200 people were injured.

Officials suspect the attack in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province may have been orchestrated by an Islamic State-affiliated state operating near the Afghanistan border. The group previously targeted members of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl, the Islamic political party that organized the rally. A local party leader was killed.

The provincial police chief told local news media that a suicide bomber caused the explosion. No one immediately claimed responsibility.

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Background: Militant groups, including the Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, have become more active in recent years. This year, the TTP attacked a mosque in Peshawar, killing more than 100 people, and launched an hours-long assault on Karachi.

Fallout: The increase in militant violence in Pakistan could dampen campaigning for the next general election, expected in the fall, and deter voters from coming to the polls.

India’s opposition pushes Modi to speak out about the ethnic conflict

Violence in Manipur has killed more than 150 people and displaced 60,000 others, and the northeastern state has effectively been divided along ethnic lines in what residents describe as a civil war.

But India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has almost avoided the conflict altogether. Last week, opposition parties resorted to a vote of no confidence in parliament. The move was procedural; Modi’s government is not at risk of being voted out.

Instead, Gaurav Gogoi, the opposition leader who initiated the vote, said he hoped it would “force” Modi to speak out about the violence. Gogoi, citing national security concerns such as possible “ripple effects” in other states, noted that about 5,000 guns went missing after gangs looted police gun depots.

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The military: Tens of thousands of national security forces have struggled to restore calm, potentially straining India’s military resources. Analysts say many come from a division primarily responsible for security on the border with China, where the two sides have remained in a stalemate for more than two years.

Modi’s approach: Modi is personally more popular with voters than his party, known as the BJP, which has enabled him to salvage regional elections where it has struggled. Party leaders want to prevent him from being associated with Manipur in the public eye.

Helicopter crash overshadows military cooperation between Australia and the US

Australia plans to accelerate missile production for the US and expand military cooperation and training. The announcement was overshadowed by the crash of an Australian Army helicopter during one of those exercises.

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The US agreed to expedited licensing for the new missiles, which will be built from 2025 with US defense industry partners. The two countries will also work together to increase logistical support in Australia for the US military and to upgrade two air bases in Australia while improving training with both the US and Japanese air forces.

But officials also noted that more regional training exercises — a US-led effort to deter a more assertive China — could also carry greater risks, such as the crash. At the time of dispatch, the four crew members aboard the helicopter had not been found. Reuters reported that Australia had done just that she identified.

Missiles: Analysts said the US defense industry, which is struggling to keep up with requests from Ukraine and also the US Department of Defense, could benefit from production support from other countries. Australia has earmarked $2.7 billion for the purchase of long-range missiles, which can be exported to the US or Ukraine.

AUKUS: Officials gathered two years after the landmark deal, which includes the UK. The agreement aims to build a mechanism for sharing nuclear-powered submarines and develop other types of advanced technology, including hypersonic missiles and quantum computers and sensors.


Asia Pacific

Mesopotamia means the land between rivers. But the heart of the Fertile Crescent – a once verdant region of Iraq – is turning to dust.

“Because of the vulnerabilities of this region, one of the most vulnerable in the world, it is one of the first places that will show some form of extreme succumbing, literally, to climate change,” said one researcher.

Nearly 40 percent of Iraq has been taken over by blowing desert sand. In some villages near the Euphrates River, water levels are so low that families are dismantling their homes, piling them into pickup trucks and driving away.

Introducing ‘Travel 101’

My colleagues have started a new series designed to answer your travel questions with practical, actionable advice.

Last week we covered what to do if your flight is canceled or delayed, how to plan a solo trip, and how to put together a getaway with friends. They will regularly add new topics and collect them in a comprehensive guide.

Is there a topic you’d like them to cover, or do you have a favorite travel hack to share? Email them at [email protected].

Your Monday briefing: dozens dead in Pakistan

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