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Pakistan’s minority lawmakers call for holidays on Hindu festivals

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Pakistan’s non-Muslim members of the National Assembly have suggested that days be shaved off the Eid holidays so that national holidays could be observed on Hindu festivals as well.

Pakistan People’s Party lawmaker Ramesh Lal and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Ramesh Kumar and Vankwani raised the issue in the National Assembly on Thursday, Dawn online reported.

Lal lauded the Sindh government for declaring Holi a gazetted holiday and suggested that the federal government also follow the suit.

Vankwani demanded that the federal government should declare a holiday on the occasion of Holi and Diwali — the two main festivals of Hindus.

“If you think that there are already too many holidays in the country, then days can be subtracted from the three to four-day long Eid holidays,” he added.

He referred to a statement by Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed, who recently observed that Pakistan already has too many national holidays.

None of the legislators from religious parties — Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl — objected to Vankwani’s suggestion.

Later, in his speech, Khalil George, a Christian PML-N member, also supported the demands of the Hindu members of the assembly.

“We do not have any problems with holidays on our festivals as Easter falls on a Sunday, while Christmas is already a holiday thanks to Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s birth anniversary,” he said, adding “but I do support their cause”.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Hindu assembly member Lal Chand Malhi said that even if there is not a national holiday on Holi and Diwali, these festivals should be made gazetted holidays for Hindus.

“This facility is available to religious minorities in many countries,” he said.

Incidentally, Vijay Jolly — a senior member of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) who recently visited Islamabad, said that Muslims in India have holidays on both Eids and Ashura.

Speaking at the National Press Club, he called for a “similar arrangement for religious minorities in Pakistan”.

India is not the only country in the world where gazetted holidays are available for members of all religious minorities. Most western countries also have such provisions.

World

French government urges Russia to immediately release Navalny

He also informed Putin that France’s own analysis had confirmed Germany’s conclusion that Navalny was poisoned by Novichok “in contravention of international norms on using chemical weapons”.

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French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday urged his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to urgently shed light on the “attempted murder” of opposition figure Alexei Navalny after French tests confirmed the use of the Novichok nerve agent, the Elysée said.

Macron told Putin in telephone talks that it is “imperative that all light be shed, without delay, on the circumstances of this attempted murder and who is responsible”, the French presidency said in a statement.

Read: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny detained after landing in Moscow

He also informed Putin that France’s own analysis had confirmed Germany’s conclusion that Navalny was poisoned by Novichok “in contravention of international norms on using chemical weapons”.

Putin, for his part, told Macron that it was “inappropriate” to make groundless accusations against Russia over the suspected poisoning of Navalny, the Kremlin said.

The Russian leader said his country wanted Germany to hand over medical test results taken from Navalny, according to a Kremlin readout of the call.

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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny detained after landing in Moscow

Russian prison service said he was detained for multiple violations of parole and terms of a suspended prison sentence.

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Alexei Navalny

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was detained at a Moscow airport after returning from Germany on Sunday, the prison service said.

The prison service said he was detained for multiple violations of parole and terms of a suspended prison sentence and would be held in custody until a court makes a decision in his case.

Mr. Navalny, who is President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent and determined foe, had spent the previous five months in Germany recovering from a nerve agent attack that he blamed on the Kremlin.

Mr. Navalny decided to leave Berlin of his own free will and wasn’t under any apparent pressure to leave from Germany.

The prison service made the announcement after the flight carrying Mr. Navalny landed in the Russian capital, though at a different airport than had been scheduled. It was a possible attempt to outwit journalists and supporters who wanted to witness Mr. Navalny’s return.

The prison service last week issued a warrant for his arrest, saying he had violated the terms of suspended sentence he received on a 2014 conviction for embezzlement. The prison service has asked a Moscow court to turn Mr. Navalny’s 3 1/2-year suspended sentence into a real one.

After boarding the Moscow flight in Berlin on Sunday, Mr. Navalny said of the prospect of arrest: “It’s impossible; I’m an innocent man.”

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied a role in the opposition leader’s poisoning.

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Health

13 Israelis suffer facial paralysis post inoculation

“For at least 28 hours, I walked around with it (facial paralysis),” one person who had the side effect told Ynet.

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Jerusalem, Jan 17 : At least 13 Israelis suffered mild facial paralysis as a side effect after receiving the first Covid vaccine jabs, the Health Ministry said, adding that the count could be higher.

The officials have raised questions on whether or not to administer the second dose to these individuals the Health Ministry had recommended for the second dose, reported the Jerusalem Post.

“For at least 28 hours, I walked around with it (facial paralysis),” one person who had the side effect told Ynet.

“I can’t say it was completely gone afterwards, but other than that I had no other pains, except a minor pain where the injection was, but there was nothing beyond that.”

As for receiving the second dose, he admits he is undecided, but says that “it is important to note that this is something rare, and I don’t want people to avoid getting vaccinated – it’s important”.

“I recently came across, for example, someone vaccinated who was dealing with paralysis, and decided not to give her a second dose,” Galia Rahav, Director of the Infectious Diseases Unit at Sheba Medical Centre told Ynet.

“It is true that it can be given according to the Health Ministry, but I did not feel comfortable with it.”

She added that, “No one knows if this is connected to the vaccine or not. That’s why I would refrain from giving a second dose to someone who suffered from paralysis after the first dose.”

However, the Health Ministry has assured of the second dose only when the paralysis passes, Ynet reported.

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