India’s status as a free country has been downgraded to “partly-free” in a recently issued report by a US think tank, Freedom House. The report, titled “Freedom in the World 2021 – democracy under siege”, notes that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and allies “encouraged the scapegoating of Muslims, who were disproportionately blamed for the spread of the virus and faced attacks by vigilante mobs”.
Saudi Arabia on Tuesday suspended entry to the kingdom from 20 countries, including Pakistan. The Arab state made the move to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Only diplomats, Saudi citizens, medical practitioners and their families will be allowed entry. The “temporary suspension” would be effective from 9:00 pm (1800 GMT) on Wednesday.
In a historic move, UAE on Saturday announced major changes to its citizenship law, allowing for the naturalisation of foreign investors, doctors, scientists, artists and talented people and their families. The change in the citizenship law aims to ensure the social stability of the people in the country and boost the overall national development process.
Even the world’s tallest mountain is not safe from the menace of littering. Trash collected from Mount Everest is set to be transformed into art and displayed in a nearby gallery in Nepal. Used oxygen bottles, torn tents, ropes, broken ladders, cans and plastic wrappers discarded by climbers and trekkers litter the 8,848.86 metre (29,032 feet) tall peak and the surrounding area.
In his first order after taking the oath of his office on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden removed the travel ban on some Muslim and African nations placed by his predecessor Donald Trump. Biden returned to the White House late on Wednesday afternoon from the swearing-in ceremony, and right away he started signing the orders that sweep aside Trump’s pandemic response.
A UAE official has announced that the UAE will begin to end all measures taken against the State of Qatar, following the signing of the AlUla Declaration in Saudi Arabia recently. The UAE will work to re-open all land, sea and air ports for inbound and outbound movement, and that all relevant authorities in the UAE have been notified of these measures which will go into effect as of 9 January, 2021.
Dr Omar Atiq, a Pakistani oncologist who lives in the US, has made headlines for wiping away $650,000 in debt for patients at his cancer treatment centre in Arkansas. Dr Atiq told his 200 patients of the news in a Christmas greeting card. The clinic shut down in late February after 29 years of service. The card also announced its closure.
The latest disovered variant of the coronavirus does not appear to cause more severe illness than other variants, according to a matched study by Public Health England. Scientists say the new variant can spread more rapidly. According to the study, there was no significant difference in the likelihood of reinfection with the new variant as compared with the other variants.
Regional Cooperation Minister, Ofir Akunis, has clarified that the fifth country normalizing ties with Israel, will not be Pakistan. Israel is working toward formalising relations with a fifth Muslim country, possibly in Asia, during US President Donald Trump’s term. Akunis said there were two main candidate countries to become the next to move toward normal ties with Israel.
Toronto Police have termed the death of Baloch rights activist Karima Baloch, who went missing over the weekend before being found dead, as “non-criminal”. Karima Baloch, who hailed from Balochistan, was living in Canada in exile for about five years. “The circumstances have been investigated and officers have determined this to be a non-criminal death and no foul play is suspected,” the police said.