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.

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.

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

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.

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

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

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).

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.

Farahnaz Mohammadi, 17, and her cousin Fatima Almi, 19, dress identically, from their patterned headscarves to their shoes with matching bunny ears. They also share the same opinions on Afghanistan's future, which may be nearing a critical phase as a deal between the U.S. and Taliban insurgents appears to be reviving.

Salt is rarely considered a matter of national puffery. But in Pakistan, Himalayan pink salt has been the subject of parliamentary debates, editorials and trending hashtags. And Pakistanis want you to know one thing: Upmarket salt is Pakistani.

Afghanistan is holding its fourth presidential election on Saturday, after repeated delays, a campaign marred by violence and the collapse of U.S. talks with the Taliban that left the Afghan government on the sidelines.

The chief contenders — incumbent President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah — are likely giving voters a sense of déjà vu. The two men virtually tied in 2014, when then-Secretary of State John Kerry negotiated a compromise in which Ghani became president and Abdullah assumed the new and ostensibly co-equal post of chief executive.

When Aziz Rafiee heard that President Trump called off talks with the Taliban, he couldn't quite believe it. "My first question to myself was: What is really happening?" he says. Then Rafiee, who leads the Afghan Civil Society Forum in Kabul, says he felt a sense of relief.

And he says most of his friends also support Trump's decision.

The U.S. president's abrupt move over the weekend to scuttle a potential deal with the Taliban surprised many who had been following the multiple rounds of negotiations. It has also led to questions about what might come next.

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