Salaam Abdus Salam [2 of 2]

A two-room bungalow, the birth place of Pakistan’s only Nobel laureate Dr Abdus Salam, today stands empty, testament to the indifference, bigotry and prejudice surrounding the country’s greatest scientist. — Image by AFP. In the picture, a boy looks at a signboard that hangs outside the house of Professor Abdus Salam in the town of Jhang in the Punjab province of Pakistan.



by Murtaza Razvi


Note for WoP readers: I was looking for information on the net about Dr. Salam, when I came across this piece by Murtaza Razvi. Late Murtaza was Senior Assistant Editor of Dawn’s magazines.

While looking for his profile which I normally do for readers of this blog, [so they can peep into the persona of the writer whose thoughts they may be reading in a post]. So I did same about Murtaza also.

Having hit at his profile, I came to note the sad killing of Murtaza Razvi by some unknown killers on April 18 this year. Though there is not much info about who killed him, but I do feel the killers are the same i.e. one of those gangsters, the hired assassins and the killers for ransom but not excluding the militant cum killer wings of different political parties who though day and night shout against the ongoing killing sprees in the largest metropolis of Pakistan, the economic hub of the country, yet at the same time do nothing, absolutely nothing to disband these wings for these very wings are the source of their strength, not only to get votes at point of a gun but also raise extortions for them to bear election costs and to also undertake different covert as well as overt political activities.

While they do get satisfaction over their nefarious agendas, yet the country particularly the people of Karachi and their magnificent abode, the pride of Pakistan suffers.

Murder of Murtaza Razvi is another blot on the journalistic horizon of Pakistan turning this country into one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists. [Nayyar]


Mohammad Abdus Salam (1926-1996) was his full name, which may add to the knowledge of those who wish he was either not Ahmadi or Pakistani. The man proudly lived and died as both, and much more, as Pakistan disowned him, in life and in death. The government denied him the honour of a state funeral; the media remained absent from the burial ceremony at Rabwah, which has since been renamed not after Abdus Salam but as Chenab Nagar, just to spite its Ahmadi residents.

The restyled epitaph at his grave near his native Jhang awkwardly reads: “First —— Nobel Laureate”, from which the word “Muslim” has been deleted under court orders; the court, even in its narrow mindedness could have ordered the replacement of “Muslim” with “Pakistani” but that was not to be. This son of Jhang is less known in his own country today than the terrorist Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, even though he had founded and led an abler lashkar (brigade) of some 500 Pakistani physicists and mathematicians over the years whom he arranged to send to UK and US universities on scholarship for higher studies.

He was the guiding spirit and founder of Pakistan’s nuclear programme as well as Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission and Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco). The pygmies who after him headed the two institutes he was allowed to set up in Pakistan in his pre-non-Muslim years have since been credited with laurels, and honoured more, even in their dishonourable conduct, as father of this and that, while the Godfather remains conspicuous by his absence in official records.

Dr Salam became the victim of rigid social attitudes and state discrimination against his community when Z.A. Bhutto through an act of parliament declared the Ahmadis non-Muslim in 1974. Heartbroken at the humiliation, he left Pakistan in protest to live in Europe where in 1979 he was awarded the Nobel for his groundbreaking research in theoretical physics; soon roads were named after him in Geneva and Trieste, if not in Islamabad or Jhang. The same year, as it happened, Bhutto was hanged by Gen Zia’s kangaroo court, but the Ahmadis’ predicament was Bhutto’s only legacy that Zia embraced wholeheartedly and built on even further.

Despite being given the roughshod, Dr Salam from his institute in Italy, continued to patronise bright Pakistani scientists and students through a scholarship programme. His alma mater Government College, Lahore, which has named its mathematics and physics departments after Dr Salam, and Pakistan Post, which issued a two-rupee stamp to honour him, remain the only state institutions to have acknowledged him.

The nascent rock band aptly named as Beghairat Brigade, of Aalu Anday fame, has hit the nail on the spot with their lyrics of the popular song which rightly laments: aithe Abdus Salm noon puchhdai koi nai (nobody values Abdus Salam here) as they point out that murderers Qadri and Qasab have become our heroes. His birth anniversary, January 29, remains a long shot from being celebrated as Dr Abdus Salam Day, even though we invent anomalies like the Yaum-i-Takbir (atomic detonation day) and Sindhi Culture Day, amongst the myriad others, that are officially marked on our calendar. How truly unworthy is Pakistan of its only Nobel laureate.

Rest in peace, Dr Salam.


Previous: Salam, Abdus Salam [1 of 2]

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The writer, a senior assistant editor (head of Dawn magazines), was found dead at artist Shahid Rassam’s studio. Autopsy revealed that he was murdered most probably because of the sectarian attacks on Shia community. The attacks have gripped Pakistan’s largest metropolis since start of 2012. Murtaza wrote this piece on 21 Nov. 2011.

You might also like:

1. Salam Sahab, we have failed you 2. Dr. Abdus Salam: Beyond Physics
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