Diaa Hadid

On a Sunday in early December, about two dozen women and girls weaved their bikes down the streets and alleys of the gritty Lyari neighborhood in the Pakistani city of Karachi.

They nudged their bikes between rickshaws, motorbikes and crowds of men — men everywhere. Some turned their faces away to avoid the sight of women rattling past on bikes. Others gaped.

A nearby samosa seller, Saqlain Usman, 18, shook his head. His three sisters wouldn't dream of undertaking such an offensive act. They stayed home, he said, where they belonged.

Youths sporting peach fuzz sway as they chant parts of the Quran. They sit in the courtyard of a sprawling Islamic seminary, or madrassa, on the outskirts of the village of Meer Muhammad, in Pakistan's rural heartland in Punjab.

By graduation, these students should have memorized Islam's holiest book and finer points of Islamic law. They will have mastered little else.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In Pakistan, Islamic seminaries, better known as madrassas, are widely seen as places where students are indoctrinated with extreme interpretations of Islam. Well, now Pakistan's prime minister wants to change them. Here's NPR's Diaa Hadid.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, HOST:

When Suhai Aziz Talpur was training to be a police officer, she was ordered to jump off a cliff during an endurance test. She recalls staring seven feet down to the ground. "I said no, I won't jump and break my leg."

So her supervisor pushed her.

Talpur landed unscathed. Later, her supervisor told her, "The fear is here." Talpur taps her head. "So fight it from here."

Pakistan has expelled 18 international aid groups from the country, after they were accused of deliberately spreading disinformation, according to a series of tweets issued by the country's human rights minister, Shireen Mazari.

The expulsions reflect what aid workers say is a hardening toward organizations that provide health care, education and food assistance as well as working on human rights, women's rights and free speech issues.

Among the groups were charities such as Catholic Relief, Plan International and World Vision.

For decades, India's Sikhs have longed to reach one of their holiest sites, a soaring white temple, built on a river bank. From about 2 miles away, they constructed viewing platforms simply to gaze at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

When at 19 Mehnaz became pregnant for the fifth time, she panicked. She already had four daughters, and her husband was threatening to throw her out if she had another. So she did what millions of Pakistani women do every year: She had an abortion.

Like many of those women, her abortion was partly self-administered. "I kept taking tablets — whatever I laid my hands on," she says. "I lifted heavy things" — like the furniture in her tiny living room. She drank brews of boiled dates — many Pakistanis believe the beverage triggers labor.

Updated at 9:57 a.m. ET

Separatist militants armed with guns and a suicide vest tried to storm the Chinese consulate in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi on Friday, in one of the most serious attacks in years against Chinese nationals in the Islamic state. No Chinese nationals or consulate staff were harmed.

At least seven people were killed as police clashed with the militants: three militants, two policemen and a father and son, Pakistani nationals, who were apparently at the consulate to pick up visas, The Associated Press said.

Last year, the Chinese wife of a Pakistani man traveled back home to China with their two children. She wanted to introduce her younger boy, 18 months old, to her mom.

But after she landed in China's northwestern region of Xinjiang, she was detained, says her husband, a doctor named Rehman. His wife is a Uighur Muslim, a member of a minority group that has been targeted in a Chinese crackdown.

Security officials left their sons at their grandmother's house. Weeks later, they returned and took away the older boy, age 6.

A Christian woman who was acquitted by Pakistan's Supreme Court after spending eight years on death row for insulting Islam is still being held in an undisclosed location. Her release was delayed after negotiations failed between the government and an extremist religious group that is demanding she be killed.

Asia Bibi's sentence was reversed on Wednesday in Islamabad. Almost simultaneously, followers of a hard-line Pakistani religious group rushed onto major highways across the country to paralyze traffic in protest of the decision.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We are just days away from the midterm election. And President Trump has laid his bets on immigration as the issue that will drive Republicans to the polls.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The Afghan Taliban confirms that Pakistan has released the co-founder of the insurgent group — a move seen as a gesture aimed at bringing the Taliban, the Afghan government and the United States to the negotiating table.

Pakistan detained Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in 2010 in the sprawling port city of Karachi. Local media report the sting was arranged by Pakistan's intelligence agency, known as the ISI, alongside the CIA.

Saleem Abbas is the kind of student who sits in the front row. He's the first to try to answer a question. He eagerly repeats the Mandarin expressions that his teacher throws at the class: "Is this your family or not?" he repeats after the teacher. Then: "I have a mother."

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Around the world, people are struggling for access to drinking water. All Things Considered is examining the forces at play in separating the haves from the have-nots — from natural disasters to crumbling infrastructure and corruption.

In Korangi, a slum neighborhood of Karachi, a sprawling port city of some 16 million people in Pakistan, there's no running water.

So how do people get the water they need to drink, to cook, to wash up and to clean their homes?

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to visit Pakistan tomorrow, just days after the United States canceled a military aid program. Here's NPR's Diaa Hadid in Islamabad.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

When he was a swaggering cricketer, and the Pakistani national team was struggling, fans would chant: "Who can save Pakistan? It's Imran Khan! It's Imran Khan!"

"And the chant has now continued into his rallies," says Omar Waraich, a Pakistani political analyst and former newspaper correspondent.

For his supporters, Khan has come full circle, from the man who led Pakistan to victory in the 1992 Cricket World Cup, to winning Pakistan.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

A former cricket star has just declared himself Pakistan's new prime minister. Imran Khan announced his victory earlier today after a contentious election that his opponents call fraudulent. NPR's Diaa Hadid joins us now from Islamabad. Hey, Diaa.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KORVA COLEMAN, HOST:

Pakistan holds general elections on Wednesday. It's only the second time ever there's been a peaceful handover of power in the country's 70-year history. NPR's Diaa Hadid has been covering the campaign, and she joins us now from Islamabad.

Good morning, Diaa.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NOEL KING, HOST:

It is a question asked so often around the world - is an election truly fair? That question will be asked yet again when people in Pakistan vote next week. NPR's Diaa Hadid explains why.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains, on the bank of the river that courses through the Swat Valley, boys play soccer in a dusty field. When the Pakistani Taliban occupied this valley a decade ago, loyalists trudged to the same riverbank with their own television sets, setting them ablaze in a fiery rejection of Western culture.

Pages