By Dr Rabia Zafar

The High Commission of Pakistan in the UK organised a day event in the memorandum of great Scientist “Dr. Abdus Salam” at the Imperial College London on 26th March 2013. This was one of the memorable days for all Pakistani students studying at Imperial College London

Dr. Abdus Salam an eminent scientist in the field of theoretical Physics of all time and the first Pakistani Muslim scientist to receive a Nobel Prize in science and the second from an Islamic country to receive any Nobel Prize. Imperial College London witnessed the major contribution of this great scientist in the quantum field theory and in the advancement of Mathematics alongside his notable achievements in magnetic photon, vector meson, Grand Unified Theory, and the most importantly electroweak theory. I still remember the framed picture of Dr. Abdus Salam in the Physics department at South Kensington Campus London always gave me a great sense of pride for Pakistan. Dr. Abdus Salam’s role as a founder of mathematical and theoretical physics in Pakistan is a brilliant example for a young scientist like me who wants to bring scientific and technological development to Pakistan.


How Pakistan Treated Its Hero, Dr. Abdus Salam

Dr Abdus Salam was born in a poor family in Punjab where his father was an education officer and his grandfather was a religious figure and a physician.

Abdus Salam was only 14 when he scored the highest marks in matriculation in Punjab University and was awarded a scholarship at Government College University. In his early academic years, he was interested in Urdu and English Literature in which he made a remarkable success but he focused on Mathematics and stick to it. After he received his degree in 1944, he applied for Indian Civil Service (Highest Govt. Rank then) on his father’s will but call it divine providence that Dr Abdus Salam was rejected for that post and later on he continued his Master’s degree and completed it in 1946. He was awarded a scholarship at St. John’s College, Cambridge. In those days and even now studying in Cambridge is a dream that seldom comes true.

So, after he went to Cambridge he was awarded by his first prize named as Smith’s Prize because of his exceptionally good pre-doctoral services in Physics and Adams Prize after the publication of his doctrine research thesis. He was at the top of his success when he decided to come back home, he decided to visit his motherland as his love for his nation and his country was pure.

Dr Abdus Salam joined GCU in 1951 and served as a Professor of Mathematics but went back to St. John’s College, Cambridge in 1954 because of the 1953’s Lahore riots. Out of jealousy and discrimination on the basis of his religious beliefs, Dr Abdus Salam was appointed as a football coach in GCU. Can anyone imagine a person who is going make a splendid outbreak in the field of science, a person who has won many international prizes on the basis of his intellect and knowledge is appointed as a football coach just because of the hatred towards his beliefs??

Geneva (CERN-one of the largest and most respectful research centre of Europe wanted Abdul Salam’s contributions but the Unfortunate, yet certain uneducated peoples never valued the gemstone they had in their hands for they were too busy brushing the coal.

Dr Abdus Salam was a patriot of his own kind and the inauguration of scholarships for students in Pakistan and kept on visiting his beloved country frequently. In 1960 he once again came back to Pakistan to take charge of the Atomic Energy Commission post offered by Gen. Ayyub Khan. At that time Dr Abdus Salam would have refused but he knew how badly his country needed a better atomic energy department and a science policy which was never formulated since Independence of Pakistan. He not only formulated a physics institute at Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad but also had signed a contract along with Edward Durell Stone for establishing Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology.

He was also a founder of Pakistan’s first Space Research Agency and several other commissions and agencies in Nuclear Energy. He also laid the foundation of International Nathiagali Summer College on Physics and Contemporary Needs which enables scientists from all over the world to come and interact with Pakistani Scientist and discuss their ideas and projects. He had opened many international gates for zealous students and for the ones who knew the importance of education and were fond of advancements in knowledge.

In 1979, he was awarded the Nobel Prize, along with his colleagues for the contributions they made to the theory of weak and unified electromagnetic interactions between elementary particles.

He died peacefully at the age of 70 in 1996 with a number of awards and prizes and his made contributions to his homeland Pakistan like no one ever did. His love for Pakistan never faded as he wished to be buried in his country by his father and mother. So, his dead body was brought back to Pakistan and he was buried and his tombstone says “First Muslim Nobel Laureate”

In 1988 Government of Pakistan had issued commemorative stamps to honour his services. Government College University has a “Salam Chair in Physics” and “Abdul Salam School of Mathematical Science” named after him. But as he was not like because of his beliefs when he was alive, the hatred prevails even after his death and certain Religious Scholars of Pakistan have demanded to remove his chair from GCU and his services to this country have to be forgotten. Several MNA’s from PML (N), MQM and even four from PTI have signed the petition to remove his chair and physics centre QAU campus is named after an Arab astronomer Al-Khazini.

No matter Abdul Salam was not just a hero but a warrior who fought for his country not by the sword but by his pen, by his intellect, by the power of his knowledge and contributions. Pity the people that have no heroes, shameless is the one that has them but does not honour them.

He touched the skies of success yet he was humble and kind and kept Pakistan, his homeland, at front foot but this is how we Pakistani’s treat our Heroes.