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Diaa Hadid

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U.S. forces and their allies may have largely left Afghanistan. But the country's four-decade-long war continues. NPR's Diaa Hadid reports.

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Today President Biden reaffirmed that U.S. troops are leaving Afghanistan fast. They'll all be out by the end of August.

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The Taliban are overrunning districts in Afghanistan. Last week, you'll remember, U.S. forces withdrew from Bagram air base, which effectively ended 20 years of American involvement in Afghanistan.

FREMANTLE, Australia – It was pub choir night on a recent evening at a watering hole in the Western Australian port city of Fremantle. Nobody was masked. The choir leader urged people to cram in tighter for better sound. Drinks in hand, dozens of patrons launched into an Australian classic, "You'd better be home soon."

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To talk about the way ahead in Afghanistan, we want to turn now to NPR's Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman. Tom has made numerous trips to Afghanistan reporting on U.S. military operations there over the years. Tom, thanks for being here.

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KABUL, Afghanistan – Armed men opened fire late Tuesday on dozens of deminers who worked for a British charity, killing 10 men and injuring 16 others. The incident occurred in the northern Afghan province of Baghlan, according to the HALO Trust charity and the Afghan interior ministry.

KABUL, Afghanistan — At a dusty bus station on this city's outskirts, ticket hawkers call out for passengers to the southern city of Kandahar. It's a 300-mile route — and the Taliban control key parts of the highway.

There are gun battles along the route, and the Taliban undertake violent ambushes of Afghan forces.

In Malala Yousafzai's 23 years, she's won the Nobel Peace Prize. She runs a global girls' education charity. She graduated from Oxford University. She's known by only one name, like Obama. This month, she was a guest star on the Friends reunion. This week, she made the cover of British Vogue.

The headline: "I Know The Power A Young Girl Carries In Her Heart: The Extraordinary Life Of Malala."

KABUL, Afghanistan — Shugofa Nayebi recently divorced her husband, signed up for dental college and began working in a hair salon doing eyelash extensions to pay for her studies.

"I'm independent now," Nayebi, 32, says over the din of hairdryers and music in the Shabnam Salon in an upscale Kabul neighborhood.

KABUL, Afghanistan — Sayed Ul-Shuhada school in Kabul was once a place of tentative hope. Impoverished Afghan children studied there: girls and boys who worked as carpet weavers to pay for their books. An Afghan aid group donated a library and teachers helped students paint colorful murals.

On Saturday, it became the site of one of Afghanistan's worst attacks in at least a year, when a series of blasts appeared to deliberately target its female students.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In Afghanistan over the weekend, dozens of girls and young women were killed in an attack outside a school for girls in Kabul. Is this a sign of what's to come as U.S. forces withdraw? Here's NPR's Diaa Hadid.

Updated April 29, 2021 at 2:14 PM ET

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — When the Biden administration took office, American diplomats got to work on a plan to reenergize Afghanistan's sputtering peace talks.

Editor's note: This story includes details of violence that readers may find disturbing.

KABUL, Afghanistan — When it started, the boy had been dozing on a mat in a room crammed with family visiting for a wedding. When it ended, his uncle and five other relatives, including small children, were dead.

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KABUL, Afghanistan — It's not the risk of contracting COVID-19 that keeps journalist Fatima Roshanian home. It's the murders.

Roshanian scaled back her movements after she found her name on three different lists circulating on Afghan social media, claiming to be of people the Taliban want to kill. On one list, she's number 11.

"They are after people who are well-known, who are against the values of this society, who speak out," she says.

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The top U.S. negotiator for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, met with Pakistan's army chief Monday in Islamabad as the U.S. is threatening a full military withdrawal from Afghanistan if stalled peace talks do not resume between Kabul and the Taliban. Khalilzad's visit followed stops last week in Kabul and Doha, Qatar, meeting with Afghan and Taliban officials.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The pandemic and polio are colliding in Pakistan.

It's definitely harder for the country to keep up its efforts to wipe out this highly contagious disease. (Pakistan is one of the few pockets in the world where it's still circulating.) But the lessons learned from its polio effort are proving helpful for the coronavirus vaccination campaign.

The backstory

First, a bit of background is in order.

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With Oscar nominations just a day away, Pakistan is hoping its picture gets one of the slots for best foreign film.

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