Diaa Hadid

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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