Your Monday Briefing: Dozens Dead in Pakistan

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A fatal blast occurred at a rally in Pakistan’s northwest region, resulting in the deaths of at least 43 people. Officials believe that the attack may have been orchestrated by an affiliate of the Islamic State near the Afghanistan border. The rally was organized by the Islamist political party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl, and a local party leader was among the casualties. The explosion was caused by a suicide bomber, though no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

In recent years, militant groups, including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (T.T.P.), have become increasingly active in Pakistan. The T.T.P. has carried out various attacks, such as the mosque attack in Peshawar that killed over 100 people and the assault on Karachi. The rise of militant violence in the country could have negative implications for the upcoming general election, potentially dampening campaigning efforts and discouraging voters from participating.

Moving on to India, the opposition parties are urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address the ongoing ethnic conflict in Manipur. The violence in the region has resulted in more than 150 deaths and the displacement of 60,000 individuals. However, Modi has largely avoided discussing the conflict. In an attempt to compel Modi to speak out, the opposition initiated a no-confidence motion in Parliament. While it is unlikely to succeed, opposition leader Gaurav Gogoi hoped that it would force Modi to bring attention to the violence. Additionally, concerns have been raised regarding the military’s ability to restore calm in Manipur, as tens of thousands of national security forces have been deployed and may stretch India’s military resources. Party leaders are cautious about linking Modi to the conflict, as he is more popular with voters than his party, the B.J.P.

Meanwhile, Australia has announced plans to accelerate missile production for the United States and expand military cooperation and training. However, these plans were overshadowed by the crash of an Australian army helicopter during a training exercise. The United States has agreed to fast-track licensing for the new missiles, and both countries will increase logistics support and upgrade air bases. The regional training exercises, led by the U.S., aim to deter a more assertive China but also come with risks, as demonstrated by the helicopter crash.

This week, my colleagues have launched a new series called “Travel 101,” which aims to provide practical advice and answer questions about travel. They have already addressed topics such as what to do if your flight is canceled or delayed, how to plan a solo trip, and organizing a friends’ getaway. They will continue to cover various topics and compile them into a comprehensive guide. If you have any travel-related questions or hacks to share, you can email them at [email protected].

Lastly, the Fertile Crescent in Iraq, known as Mesopotamia, is experiencing severe desertification. Nearly 40% of the country has been overtaken by blowing desert sands, leading to water scarcity in some villages near the Euphrates River. Families are being forced to dismantle their homes and leave due to the lack of water. Researchers predict that the region’s vulnerability to climate change will result in extreme consequences.

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