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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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?

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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.

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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.

Two young women burst through the door of a health center in a Pakistani slum. One woman sobs. The other tries to explain what just happened.

Nida, 21, and Sahar, 19, are front-line vaccinators — a small but essential role in Pakistan's enormous effort to eradicate the virus. They were going down alleys knocking door-to-door, administering polio vaccine drops to children, when a man pulled out a gun, slammed Nida over the head, snatched her bag and ran away. (Nida and Sahar asked that their last names not be used to protect their safety.)

A Pakistani exchange student was one of the 10 people shot dead in the Santa Fe High School shooting on Friday. She came from a country where militants have attacked schools and killed students, so her death — in a country that once seemed so much safer than Pakistan — shocked many in her home country.

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Updated at 10 a.m. ET

Multiple bomb blasts, including two apparent suicide attacks on police stations, and earthquake tremors rocked Afghanistan's capital city, Kabul, on Wednesday.

Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for at least one of the bombings. The blasts underscore how the government and its Western backers are struggling to secure the capital against militants who see the city and its residents as their chief targets.

The woman in the brown burqa stood at the gate of court complex as men in suits shouldered past. With one hand, she clutched her son, and in the other, a piece of paper scrawled with a name.

The district police officer gave it to her when she complained about her husband's abuse. He told her to present it at the entrance of the sprawling court administration that serves the Swat Valley. Noorshad Begum couldn't read it, being illiterate.

She handed it to a court guard.

Updated at 4:40 a.m. ET

Pakistan's Interior Minister Ashan Iqbal was shot and wounded on Sunday by a gunman reportedly linked to a hard-line Muslim group. It was the most serious act of violence since campaigning began for upcoming elections, expected this summer.

Updated at 7:50 a.m. ET

Coordinated suicide bomb attacks near the Afghan intelligence agency building in Kabul have killed at least 25 people and wounded dozens more, including several journalists.

In a separate attack in the southern city of Kandahar, 11 schoolchildren were killed and 16 hurt when a suicide bomber in a truck targeted NATO-led forces.

Pakistan's Supreme Court effectively ended the political career of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday, voting unanimously to ban him for life from holding any public office. The verdict plunges Pakistan into more political instability in the lead up to elections, expected this summer.

The ruling by the five-judge panel cited an article in Pakistan's constitution that requires members of parliament to be "honest and righteous."

Opponents of the verdict said it was a dangerous overstep by the Supreme Court to ban Sharif for life.

When he visits rural villages, fans shower him with rose petals. A YouTube user calls him a "rock star activist." It's an unlikely epithet for a 26-year-old from a remote, conservative Pakistani village who sometimes wears a traditional turban.

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The Nobel Peace Laureate Malala Yousafzai returned to her homeland Pakistan today. This is her first visit since a Taliban gunman boarded her school bus and shot her. NPR's Diaa Hadid reports from Islamabad.

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