Philip Reeves

Philip Reeves is an award-winning veteran international correspondent based in Islamabad, Pakistan. Previous to his current role, he covered Europe out of NPR's bureau in London.

Reeves has spent two decades working as a journalist overseas, reporting from a wide range of places including the former Soviet Union, the Middle East and Asia.

A member of the NPR team that won highly prestigious Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University and George Foster Peabody awards for coverage of the conflict in Iraq, Reeves has been honored several times by the South Asian Journalists Association.

In 2010, Reeves moved to London from New Delhi after a stint of more than seven years working in and around South Asia. He traveled widely in India, taking listeners on voyages along the Ganges River and the ancient Grand Trunk Road. He also made numerous trips to cover unrest and political turmoil in Pakistan.

Reeves joined NPR in 2004, after spending 17 years as a correspondent for the British daily newspaper, The Independent. During the early stages of his career, he worked for BBC radio and television after training on the Bath Chronicle newspaper in western Britain.

Over the years, Reeves has covered a wide range of stories - from the Waco siege, to the growth of the Internet, Boris Yeltsin's erratic presidency, the economic rise of India, and conflicts in Gaza and the West Bank, Chechnya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

Graduating from Cambridge University, Reeves earned a degree in English literature. He and his wife have one daughter. His family originates from New Zealand.

Islamabad can seem a dull place, full of retired civil servants sipping tea in villas, and with a night scene that's about as lively as lawn bowls. But you can at least get a good sleep.

While other Asian cities gossip, munch and rattle through the night, a hush descends on this modern government town.

In my neighborhood, dusk creeps in to a chorus of birdsong. Dawn is heralded by the rich and multilayered cadences of the call to prayer from the nearby mosques.

As soon as the pink-clad Ayesha Mumtaz steps out of her car, word of her arrival spreads along the street like a forest fire. Storekeepers begin shooing away customers, hauling down the shutters, and heading into the shadows in the hope that Mumtaz's scrutinizing eye will not fall on them.

These traders would sooner lose business than risk a visit from a woman whose campaign to clean up the kitchens and food factories of Pakistan has made her a national celebrity, nicknamed "The Fearless One."

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It doesn't matter where you are in the world, pretty safe to say we all hate getting stuck in traffic. Some places, though, are more difficult than others. NPR's Philip Reeves sent us his thoughts on the gridlock that plagues Kabul, Afghanistan.

Exercising the constitutional right to vote in Pakistan can sometimes come at a painful price. Fouzia Talib says she has become a social outcast overnight. People are abusing her with such ferocity that she has temporarily left home to seek refuge elsewhere.

Hassina Sarwari is waiting to go home. She fled her city when the Taliban captured it more than a month ago. They ransacked her house, burned down her office and stole her laptop and passport.

Sarwari is a prominent women's rights activist from Kunduz, in northern Afghanistan.

Afghan government forces have since regained control of the city, but she says it's still too dangerous for her and her children to return. She has heard the Taliban are threatening to execute her in public.

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History has not been kind to the people who scratch out a living in Gwadar, on the arid coastline of the Arabian Sea.

They have received a few exotic visitors over the years, including Alexander the Great's army and marauding Portuguese explorers. For a couple of centuries, their land belonged to sultans in Oman, just across the ocean.

But the world has mostly passed Gwadar by, preferring gentler and more prosperous pastures to the dust, sand and jagged mountains of what is now southwestern Pakistan.

Have you ever felt bad about something, and wanted to get it off your chest? That's how our correspondent Philip Reeves feels right now, which is why he sent this essay from Pakistan.

You won't believe me when I say this, but trust me, it's true.

Journalists like me really do not like irritating people. We try to not to interfere as we go about our work. That's why I am feeling guilty.

You see, the other day I more or less brought a town to a standstill.

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Eighteen months have elapsed since Parvez Henry Gill first began tackling one of the more unusual and sensitive assignments that anyone, anywhere, is ever likely to receive.

Now he is close to completing the task: the construction of a 140-foot tall Christian cross in the middle of Karachi, the business capital of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Wrapped in bamboo scaffolding, the cross juts into the sky above this turbulent port city, where Sunni Islamist militants frequently target religious minorities — usually Shia Muslims, but sometimes Christians, too.

Shortly before he was put to death, Aftab Bahadur wrote an essay. He spoke of his alienation and loneliness, of the comfort he found in art and poetry, and of the anguish of awaiting execution on death row in Pakistan.

"I doubt there is anything more dreadful than being told that you are going to die, and then sitting in a prison cell just waiting for that moment," he said, according to a text translated from Urdu and released by Reprieve, a human rights group based in Britain.

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It's long been assumed that, in conservative Islamic societies, sex is a subject to be spoken about, if it's discussed at all, in guilty whispers.

Yet, for many months now, women in Pakistan have been dialing in to a TV show to ask about profoundly personal issues — live on air.

"I have to talk about my husband," said a woman who gave her name as Sonia on one of the show's recent editions. "His sperm count is very low ..."

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He has a swirl of graying whiskers stretching down to his collar, yet he wears a tiny mustache so precisely groomed that it almost could have been typed. His face is confident and stern, befitting a gentleman of substance.

Aziz Royesh is a man whose life has been defined by one over-arching ambition: He says he simply wants to be a teacher.

At 46, he has achieved that goal in one of the most difficult and dangerous environments in the world — Afghanistan. He has also founded a school that is now winning international acclaim as a model for education in that war-battered nation.

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He is indicted for treason and murder. He is forbidden from going abroad. He is banned for life from running for elected office.

It is hard to imagine how Pervez Musharraf, former military ruler of Pakistan, could be in much deeper water than this.

Yet, as the ex-president and army chief sits in his apricot-colored villa, ruminating over his predicament, he does not sound — or look — much like a man unduly burdened by worry.

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Individual tragedies easily go unnoticed in Pakistan. People are too busy grappling with corruption, militant violence, poverty and an infrastructure so dysfunctional that everyone, everywhere endures daily power outages.

Ziaullah Khan and his wife, Shazia, are the victims of one of the cruelest crimes of all. Yet in this troubled land, they're struggling to get anyone to listen — let alone help.

A Stolen Baby Boy

They're a young couple, just starting out. She's a teacher; he works in a print shop. They live in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad.

A black and white photograph captures a scene that could never happen today.

It shows an American president riding through the streets of a city in Pakistan in a gleaming horse-drawn carriage, as if he's the Queen of England.

The city is Karachi, in the days when American visitors were not obliged by the presence of Islamist militants to conceal themselves behind blast-proof walls, sandbags and razor wire.

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It has been a month since more than 130 children were murdered in an attack on a school in Pakistan. The government has responded with draconian measures; this includes victimizing the large number of Afghans living in Pakistan.

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In Pakistan, one month ago today, the Taliban attacked an army-run school in the city of Peshawar - 150 people were killed, the vast majority of them children.

(SOUNDBITE OF DEMONSTRATION)

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Every day, shortly after breakfast, more than 150 noisy and eager-eyed kids, coated in dust from top to toe, troop into a mud cowshed in a sun-baked village among the cotton fields of southern Pakistan. The shed is no larger than the average American garage; the boys and girls squeeze together, knee-to-knee, on the dirt floor.

Words scrawled on a wooden plank hanging outside proudly proclaim this hovel to be a "school," although the pupils have no tables, chairs, shelves, maps or wall charts — let alone laptops, water coolers or lunch boxes.

Winter is creeping down on northern Pakistan from the Himalayan Mountains. The skies are cloudless and bright blue. The air is as cool and refreshing as champagne.

This is the season for swaddling yourself in a big woolen shawl. And it's also the season when Pakistanis try not to ... let the bustards get them down.

I'm talking about the Houbara bustard. It's a bird, about half the size of a turkey, and with the same rotten luck this time of year.

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