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Diaa Hadid

Diaa Hadid chiefly covers Pakistan and Afghanistan for NPR News. She is based in NPR's bureau in Islamabad. There, Hadid and her team were awarded a Murrow in 2019 for hard news for their story on why abortion rates in Pakistan are among the highest in the world.

Hadid has also documented the culture war surrounding Valentines' Day in Pakistan, the country's love affair with Vespa scooters and the struggle of a band of women and girls to ride their bikes in public. She visited a town notorious in Pakistan for a series of child rapes and murders, and attended class with young Pakistanis racing to learn Mandarin as China's influence over the country expands.

Hadid joined NPR after reporting from the Middle East for over a decade. She worked as a correspondent for The New York Times from March 2015 to March 2017, and she was a correspondent for The Associated Press from 2006 to 2015.

Hadid documented the collapse of Gadhafi's rule in Libya from the capital, Tripoli. In Cairo's Tahrir Square, she wrote of revolutionary upheaval sweeping Egypt. She covered the violence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria from Baghdad, Erbil and Dohuk. From Beirut, she was the first to report on widespread malnutrition and starvation inside a besieged rebel district near Damascus. She also covered Syria's war from Damascus, Homs, Tartous and Latakia.

Her favorite stories are about people and moments that capture the complexity of the places she covers.

They include her story on a lonely-hearts club in Gaza, run by the militant Islamic group Hamas. She unraveled the mysterious murder of a militant commander, discovering that he was killed for being gay. In the West Bank, she profiled Israel's youngest prisoner, a 12-year-old Palestinian girl who got her first period while being interrogated.

In Syria, she met the last great storyteller of Damascus, whose own trajectory of loss reflected that of his country. In Libya, she profiled a synagogue that once was the beating heart of Tripoli's Jewish community.

In Baghdad, Hadid met women who risked their lives to visit beauty salons in a quiet rebellion against extremism and war. In Lebanon, she chronicled how poverty was pushing Syrian refugee women into survival sex.

Hadid documented the Muslim pilgrimage to holy sites in Saudi Arabia, known as the Hajj, using video, photographs and essays.

Hadid began her career as a reporter for The Gulf News in Dubai in 2004, covering the abuse and hardships of foreign workers in the United Arab Emirates. She was raised in Canberra by a Lebanese father and an Egyptian mother. She graduated from the Australian National University with a B.A. (with Honors) specializing in Arabic, a language she speaks fluently. She also makes do in Hebrew and Spanish.

Her passions are her daughter, photography, cooking, vintage dress shopping and listening to the radio. She sings really badly, but that won't stop her.

Meet Hadid on Twitter @diaahadid, or see her photos on Instagram. She also often posts up her work on her community Facebook page.

Abbas has worked in this Kabul cemetery for more than a decade, since he moved to the Afghan capital for work. He's sometimes called to dig quickly to bury the victims of militant attacks. But the last six weeks are the busiest he's ever seen.

"People bring their dead during the day and during the night," says Abbas, who like many Afghans, has only one name. He believes the cause of death is COVID-19.

Last week, Zain Tafneesh's family drove from hospital to hospital trying to find a bed for her 86-year-old grandfather. He had COVID-19 and was struggling to breathe. "We were helpless, we were begging," Tafneesh says. "Imagine that old man was in the car crying for oxygen, and the hospitals were showing no mercy."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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In Afghanistan, a group of teenage girls are trying to build a mechanized, hand-operated ventilator for coronavirus patients, using a design from M.I.T. and parts from old Toyota Corollas.

It sounds like an impossible dream, but then again, the all-girls robotics team in question is called the "Afghan Dreamers." Living a country where two-thirds of adolescent girls cannot read or write, they're used to overcoming challenges.

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Afghanistan is reeling after a spasm of violence Tuesday left dozens of civilians dead across the country — including an assault in Kabul, where gunmen stormed a hospital's maternity ward and left at least 16 people dead. Among the victims in the Afghan capital were newborns, their mothers and the nurses who had been supporting them both.

The attack in Kabul came within hours of another assault, this one more than 100 miles to the east in Nangarhar province, which left at least 24 people dead and dozens more injured after a suicide blast tore through a funeral.

In a video recently sent to journalists from an Afghan prison, an inmate leans against a blue wall, struggling to breathe. "What's wrong with him?" one man asks. "Corona," another says.

Videos showing Afghan prisoners suffering from COVID-19-like symptoms have angered the Taliban, which has thousands of loyalists in government lockups.

Last Friday, dozens of worshippers braved pelting rain — and defied the government — to gather for communal prayers at Hanifiya mosque in the Pakistani capital Islamabad. They ignored official orders to limit Friday congregations to just five people — part of a broader ban on public gatherings to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Many of the Friday congregants were elderly, like 72-year-old retiree Awal Khan, precisely the category of people who have been hit hard by the pandemic.

Dozens of worshippers milled outside the ornate Haidari Mosque in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, in violation of lockdown orders on a recent Friday in April. The muezzin called to prayer, but they couldn't enter.

"As you can see the administration has closed down the mosque," said Mohammad Zubair, a 28-year-old government servant.

After hours of pounding the pavement, plaintively warbling his flute, Mohammad Azem finally attracted a small crowd to watch his performing monkey dance to his music on an upscale Islamabad street.

A woman begging door-to-door and two security guards watched his monkey dance, the bells on his leash ringing as Azem pounded a little drum. Ending the show, the monkey saluted and placed a tin can on his head for change.

Peter Joseph says he does his best to keep his family safe during the coronavirus pandemic. They all wear masks. They use hand sanitizer when they can find a supply – it's in short supply across the Pakistani capital Islamabad, where they live.

Until last week, Ahsan Pirzada ran a law firm in the Pakistani capital. But on March 22, when businesses shut down across Islamabad and thousands of low-wage Pakistanis lost their jobs, he decided to act.

Prisoners affiliated with the Taliban will soon be released from Afghan lockups, in a move that's likely to kick off peace talks between Afghanistan and the Islamist insurgent group. On Wednesday, a pair of Taliban spokesmen and a U.S. official confirmed the prisoner release — a key condition in the peace framework between the militants and the U.S. announced about a month ago.

The first two cases of coronavirus infection in the Gaza Strip, a war-shattered territory with a fragile health system, were confirmed over the weekend in Palestinian men who attended a mass religious gathering 10 days ago in Pakistan, according to an Islamabad-based Palestinian diplomat.

Demonstrators belonging to Islamist groups attacked an International Women's Day rally in the Pakistani capital Islamabad on Sunday, hurling rocks, chunks of mud and even their shoes. The demonstrators, who were at a rival rally held by hardline Islamist organizations, were particularly enraged by one slogan the women's day rally adopted: "mera jism, mera marzi" – "my body, my choice."

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U.S. and Taliban officials announced a major peace deal on Saturday, but today that agreement already seems to be in jeopardy. A Taliban spokesman said today that the group could resume attacks on targets in Afghanistan immediately.

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Updated at 8:57 a.m. ET

Afghan forces, the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan and the Taliban militia will begin a seven-day "reduction in violence" across the country beginning Saturday midnight local time (2:30 p.m. ET Friday) — a possible prelude to a broader peace deal following two decades of war, according to U.S. and Afghan officials.

The quasi cease-fire was hammered out during protracted negotiations in Qatar that began in 2018. It could ultimately lead to a significant reduction of the approximately 12,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

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NOEL KING, HOST:

A senior Taliban official says the group may sign a peace deal with the United States by the end of this month. That deal would start the process of an American withdrawal from Afghanistan if it can be pulled off. NPR's Diaa Hadid is on the line with us from Kabul.

The residents of Murtazabad, a village in the highlands of Pakistan, are welcoming of strangers. On a recent day, they proffered passing visitors a yak meat porridge they had made for a religious celebration. They indulgently smiled as a horde of Thai tourists raced into one of their orchards and posed with piles of red and yellow apples.

But some days, their patience wears thin.

The girls clutch their skateboards, biting their lips and fiddling with the wheels. They're learning how to make tight little turns around traffic cones, and the tension is palpable. It could be summer camp in anywhere U.S.A., but these girls are wearing headscarves under large helmets, they're dressed in long, modest clothes and the skateboarding arena is tucked behind high walls in the Afghan capital Kabul – for the girls' own safety.

Pakistani author Mohammed Hanif used to quip that the reason why his country's intelligence officials hadn't harassed him for lampooning a military dictator was because it could take them years to get the joke.

Now that A Case of Exploding Mangoes -- the award-winning satirical novel he wrote more than a decade ago — has been translated from English into Urdu, things have changed.

On a December day in Lahore, Pakistan's second-biggest city, the smog concealed tall buildings. Men on motorbikes seemed to push through it as they rode. It reeked of diesel and charcoal, compelling the Nadim family to go to the hospital.

"I can't breathe," said Mohammad Nadim, 34. He gestured to his wife, Sonia. "My wife can't breathe." She held their 3-month-old daughter Aisha, who pushed out wet, heavy coughs. "But we are here for our children."

The baby girl cooing in a hospital in the Pakistani capital was long awaited. Her mother, Ambreen Saddam, 28, had been trying to conceive for four years. She gave birth at 9 a.m., Islamabad time, Jan. 1, 2020. That date made the birth even sweeter, says Saddam.

"It's a very happy time for us," she says, lying beside her tiny, five-pound baby, who was wrapped in a bright pink blanket in a crammed maternity ward at a sprawling health compound in the city.

In some ways, the world is also celebrating with her.

Much is expected of Karakoram Highway, which curls through the tall mountain ranges of northern Pakistan, reaching western China. Both countries are renovating it, seeing its potential as a trade route. Pakistan also views it as a way to consolidate control over territories contested with India.

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For generations, farmers in the Harchi Valley in Pakistan's highlands enjoyed a close relationship with the glacier that snakes between two mountain peaks. It watered their fields, orchards and grazing lands.

Following local tradition, it has a name — Ultar — and a gender — male, because it is black owing to the debris that covers it (female glaciers are white, residents say).

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Fire swept through a train in Pakistan early Thursday, killing more than 65 people after a natural gas cylinder being used by a passenger to cook breakfast suddenly exploded, officials said.

Some of the deaths were caused as passengers leaped from the moving railway cars to escape the spreading flames, according to multiple railway officials.

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