Your Thursday Briefing: Pakistan, submerged

Plus Zelensky visits a reclaimed city and the downfall of Malaysia’s former prime minister.
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By Amelia Nierenberg

Writer, Briefings

Good morning. We’re covering flooding in Pakistan, Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Ukraine’s front line and the downfall of Malaysia’s former prime minister.

Amira, 15, center, is helped by her husband through the water. She had given birth just a few days before.Kiana Hayeri for The New York Times

Record floods strand Pakistanis

Pakistan’s record floods have submerged vast areas of the country. In Dadu District, one of the worst hit areas in the southern Sindh Province, more than 300 villages are completely submerged. Others are marooned on what are now islands in drowned farmland.

Pakistani officials warn that it may take three to six months for the waters to recede. They have urged people to leave isolated villages, warning that they could overwhelm already strained aid efforts, cause widespread food insecurity and spark a health crisis as diseases spread.

But many people have their reasons for staying. They need to protect their surviving livestock and valuables. It’s too expensive to rent a boat to move their family and belongings. And the prospect of life in a tent encampment is bleak.

The communities face deadly perils. Malaria, dengue fever and waterborne diseases are rampant. The government shut off electricity to prevent electrocution as power lines dangle precariously close to the surface. Few have received aid. “We are abandoned,” a 59-year-old cotton farmer told The Times. “We have to survive on our own.”

Context: The flooding is the worst to hit Pakistan in recent history. Around 1,500 people have died — nearly half of whom are children — and more than 33 million have been displaced.

“Today, when we look up, we are looking for only one thing — the flag of Ukraine,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in the recaptured city of Izium.Nicole Tung for The New York Times

Zelensky visits a reclaimed city

Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, made an unannounced visit yesterday to the city of Izium, which Ukraine’s forces had reclaimed days before in a lightning offensive.

Zelensky raised his country’s flag in a show of bravado that highlighted the failure of Russia’s campaign in the northeast. “Our blue and yellow flag is already flying in de-occupied Izium,” he said. “And it will be so in every Ukrainian city and village.” Kyiv said the northeastern offensive freed about 150,000 people from Russian occupation.

Zelensky’s visit to the city, just nine miles (about 14.5 kilometers) from the new front line in the east, came as Ukrainian forces continued to press on from the Kharkiv region. Ukrainian officials said their next objective was retaking Lyman, a gateway to Luhansk Province. Here are live updates.

Vladimir Putin: The Russian president faces mounting internal criticism over his faltering invasion. The Kremlin has rebuffed calls for a full military mobilization.

Retreat: As they withdrew from a town in northeastern Ukraine, the Russian army left food on tables and clothing still hanging on lines. The retreat could weaken Russia’s hold on the Donbas region to the east. Ukraine is accusing the retreating Russian forces of looting.

Other updates:

  • Russia and Saudi Arabia have strengthened their partnership as the oil-rich kingdom tilts away from the U.S.
  • Ursula von der Leyen, the top E.U. official, laid out plans for lasting support of Ukraine in her annual State of the Union. “The sanctions are here to stay,” she said.
Najib Razak, the former prime minister of Malaysia, was convicted in 2020 on seven counts of money laundering, criminal breach of trust and abuse of power.Fazry Ismail/EPA, via Shutterstock

The fall of Malaysia’s former leader

With four decades in public office and a kindly, fatherly image, Najib Razak, the former prime minister of Malaysia, was once seen as untouchable.

But last month, he began serving a 12-year sentence for siphoning millions of dollars in government funds — a notable conviction in Malaysia, where officials have long engaged in unbridled theft. His free-spending wife, Rosmah Mansor, also received a 10-year sentence this month for soliciting and receiving bribes. She was ordered to pay an extraordinary $216 million fine.

The case may not be over. Najib has powerful allies, including the current prime minister, and his party remains popular. Recently, Najib filed a petition seeking a pardon, which allows him to keep his seat in Parliament while his request is under consideration.

Background: In 2016, a U.S. Justice Department investigation found that $731 million was transferred to Najib’s bank accounts from the government investment fund he oversaw, 1 Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB. In total, at least $4.5 billion went missing, much of which has yet to be recovered.

Details: Rosmah is widely perceived as a Lady Macbeth who pushed her husband to steal government funds to finance her international shopping sprees. In 2018, officers found $273 million in cash and luxury goods in the couple’s properties, including 14 tiaras.



Xi Jinping, China’s leader, arrived in Kazakhstan yesterday.Kazakhstan Presidential Press Office, via Getty Images
Around the World
Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin was borne on a gun carriage as artillery cannons boomed and Big Ben’s bell tolled.Andrew Testa for The New York Times
U.S. News
  • Ken Starr, the independent counsel whose report led to Bill Clinton’s impeachment, died at 76.
A Morning Read
Photo illustration by Sarah Blesener for The New York Times

In New York City, thousands of emergency calls have flooded in from 312 Riverside Drive. But there is no 312 Riverside Drive.

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Jean-Luc Godard in 1964.Sam Falk/The New York Times

Jean-Luc Godard’s legacy

Jean-Luc Godard, the Franco-Swiss filmmaker, died by assisted suicide on Tuesday. He was 91.

A radical and prolific director, Godard rebelled against the cinematic conventions of 1950s art films to emerge as a pioneer of the French New Wave. He broke open the tried-and-true techniques of professional filmmaking, helped redefine the canon to include American genre pictures and created characters who articulated their own passions and opinions with wit and panache.

“It feels impossible to articulate the immensity of his impact on cinema,” Manohla Dargis writes in an appraisal of his work. Godard, she adds, “insisted that we come to him, that we navigate the densities of his thought, decipher his epigrams and learn a new language: his. If we couldn’t or wouldn’t, too bad — for us.”

For more: Here are nine Godard films to stream, including “Breathless,” his revolutionary feature-length debut. (The writer Susan Sontag likened its influence on cinema to the effect the Cubists had on traditional painting.)


What to Cook
Chris Simpson for The New York Times

Homemade miso soup is easier and more adaptable than you might think.

What to Read

This exhaustive history of modern Catholicism explains how debates within the church got so fierce.


Despite recent innovations, texting apps still don’t have an effective way to set boundaries, our columnist writes.

Now Time to Play

Play today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Downturn (three letters).

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

P.S. The Times welcomes new colleagues in audio, including Sophia Alvarez Boyd, who joins Opinion Audio from NPR as a producer on “First Person.”

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on the cost of college in the U.S.

You can reach Amelia and the team at


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