Dr Abdus Salam: Pride Pakistan does not deserve

Published: July 7, 2012

Why take pride in his achievements now when he is gone? What suddenly makes him eligible to be a pride for Pakistan? GRAPHIC: SUNARA NIZAMI

Professor John Womersley, Chief Executive of the Science and technology Facilities Council, told reporters at a briefing in London that they have discovered a particle consistent with the Higgs boson

I’m sure that strikes a nerve with many knowing Pakistani’s. The Higgs’ boson, in Pakistan, is synonymous for Dr Abdus Salam; a scientist who was at the fore of this frontier of discovery in the 1970s. But rather than appreciation for his magnificent achievement, he was shunned and sidelined.


Dr Abdus Salam, Pakistan’s first and only theoretical physicist and Nobel Laureate, was also an Ahmadi.

His grand unification theory of strong, weak and electromagnetic fields opened the gateway for the discovery of bosons and laid down the basis for this quantum electrodynamics project.

Dr Salam would be a very happy man, had he been alive today, as Steven Weinberg and Abdus Salam were the first to apply the Higgs mechanism to the breaking of the electroweak symmetry. This showed how a Higgs mechanism could be incorporated into Sheldon Glashow’s electroweak theory, in what became the Standard Model of particle physics.

Dr Salam along with Sheldon Glashow and Steven Weinberg shared the 1979 Nobel Prize for this discovery.

So most of you by now are wondering why so much commotion and celebration over the discovery?  What Is this Higgs Boson?

If you go back to the beginning, even before the Big Bang, particles didn’t have any masses, according to our understanding. There was just one very large force that all these particles interacted with. As the universe cooled down, particles gained mass by interacting with the Higgs boson.

So the reason you can’t push a car is because of the mass of the particles in the car interacting with a Higgs field.

The Higgs boson is the final piece of the Standard Model of Particle Physics, a theoretical model which describes the fundamental particles and forces that control our Universe. Finding the Higgs plugs a gaping hole in the Standard Model, the theory that describes all the particles, forces and interactions that make up the universe.

Scientists say it is a five sigma result which means they are 99.999% sure they have found a new particle which unfold many more mysteries about the universe we are all habitants of. This discovery holds colossal value; had the particle was shown not to exist, it would have meant tearing up the Standard Model and going back to the drawing boards for all those physicists who probably gave up more than just time in their lives towards the research.

Upon this discovery, Scientists at CERN are very interestingly terming it as the finding of “God Particle”.

Boy, won’t that name be attracting the attention of a lot of people out there who already believe science to be in some direct confrontation with god? So for all those who will probably fly off the handle and let their imaginations take over, the fact is, ‘God Particle’ isn’t what the scientists call it, it’s what the media calls it, and Atheism has nothing to do with it.

The name comes from a book which describes the search for the Higgs Boson. This book was originally going to be called ‘God-Damn Particle’– hinting at how elusive it is- but was changed to ‘The God Particle’ by the publishers.

An ironic fact that is worth a mention here is that, most physicists are staunch atheists or at least that is the general consensus, but Salam was one of the few firm believers of God.

Abdus Salam was known to be a devout Muslim, whose religion did not occupy a separate compartment of his life; it was inseparable from his work and family life. He once wrote:

“The Holy Quran enjoins us to reflect on the verities of Allah’s created laws of nature; however, that our generation has been privileged to glimpse a part of His design is a bounty and a grace for which I render thanks with a humble heart.”

For him, there was no such thing as Islamic science, Hindu science, Buddhist science, Christian, Jewish or Atheist science. It was the study of the Laws of Nature and the laws of nature were the laws of God. So he would emphasise not to put science in a box for if you did, then he thought you would not find progress.

Yet, Pakistan didn’t seem to accept him for his grandeur. Even when religion was a fundamental part of his research and the respect he held for it could not be challenged. Likewise was his love for Pakistan.

In 1974, the Pakistani parliament made a constitutional amendment that declared Ahmadis as ‘non-Muslims’.
In protest, Salam left Pakistan for London. Even after his departure, Salam did not completely terminate his connection to Pakistan, and kept close association with the Theoretical Physics Group as well as academic scientists from the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC). Leaving Pakistan in protest was something he greatly regretted because he loved his country. Unfortunately his country failed to reciprocate.

Dr Ishfaq Ahmad, former chairman of the PAEC and a lifelong friend of Salam recalls:

“Dr Abdus Salam was responsible for sending about 500 physicists, mathematicians and scientists from Pakistan, for doctorate’s to the best institutions in UK and US”.

How did the nation honour him then? By ostracising him and his faith.

Even the epitaph on his tomb which initially read “First Muslim Nobel Laureate”, because of Salam’s adherence to the Ahmadiyya Muslim sect, the word “Muslim” was erased on the orders of a local magistrate, leaving the nonsensical “First Nobel Laureate”.

Despite the immense services he had done for Pakistan and the government, he has been discriminated against because of his affiliation with the Ahmadiyya sect, which the Pakistan Government has formally denounced.

Yet, today, after so many years of controversy, this scientific achievement, set to go down in history, cannot be separated from the name Abdus Salam. That is exactly how Pakistani’s will remember it – as the day a scientific breakthrough made way and a Pakistani physicist had so much to do with it. A denounced Pakistani.

To Pakistan, he was an Ahmadi, deserving of scorn and ridicule. To the world and to me, at least, he was a legendary physicist.

Brilliance with no religion, no creed, no race, no caste and unfortunately, no country. Why call him Pakistani when we drew him away? Why take pride in his achievements now when he is gone? Why claim to have contributed to a discovery by a man you shunned? What suddenly makes him eligible to be a pride for Pakistan?

If only Pakistan had looked upon his achievements and awards without the lens of religious skepticism and discrimination on, we will see that personalities like him that exist amongst us even today, are a matter of pride. They deserve to be recognised, valued and appreciated- not shunned or denounced.

Anam K

Anam K

LLB graduate from the University of London.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • afranhamid

    Great job! I guess these confused people would understand now what it is all about. They are all confused people! Pity on them as well as the writer of this article! Great Job!Recommend

  • http://salam.ictp.it/ khan

    Mashallah, Plese take a look!

  • Arif

    hahaha!!!! why take so pride of the man who left Pakistan? he is a history that’s why we shouldn’t recall him and his achievements,,, what a shame! you take pride of Muhammad Bin Qasim who was not from this region and feeling worse accepting him as a Pakistani and a Muslim?Recommend

  • Ayesha

    Dr Abdus Salam was a great scientist and no one can deny this fact. Do you call those people Muslims who kill innocent people everyday, who lie and cheat. Are these people Muslims? Is this what our religion has taught us. Jihad is not about killing people with guns but it is about winning people with pen that is with knowledge, serving humanity and treating people fairly. Dr Abdus Salam did so much for humanity and I pity people of Pakistan who did not gain any benefit from his knowledge and wisdom.Recommend

  • Iqbaal

    @Sohaib Alam:
    You seem to go to great extents to neutralize the “Salaam effect.”

    Just the fact that being a Pakistani, you have to go to such extent to discredit or neutralize his contributions shows the prejudice you carry against Ahmadis. Recommend

  • RI

    i like the way so many ppl here have taken it upon themselves to play God…they get to judge who is a real muslim and who isn’t! brilliant! more than half of these ppl probably know nothing about the ahmadiyya faith besides the utter trash pounded into their head by our erstwhile mullah brigade yet they’re all so ready to denounce them…why not let God do the judging ppl, why not let Him decide who is a true follower of His faith and who isn’t and mete out punishment and reward as He deems fit! or do u believe u can do that better than Him?? Recommend

  • Aslam khan

    Pakistani society does not seem enough mature to produce scientist of Dr Abdusalam’s caliber. We’ll have to wait for centuries to grow and produce the great scientists and philosophers. Currently we are suffering with ignorance, poverty and false interpretation of region, we’ll have to fight against these evils to lift our national posture otherwise history is full of failed and discarded nations. Knowledge is the only path which leads towards glory. Unfortunately Pakistanis have been polarized through their education system, just to support agencies and military rulers to achieve their vested objectives. Educated and learned masses are difficult to control; their mouth can’t be kept shut under the title of national security and religion. Military Establishment is cunning; they never allowed the quality and uniform education to avoid the difficult questions from public. Illiterate and uneducated people can easily be molded to whatever shapes Military Establishment wants.
    Pakistanis are a divided nation and our educational system is biggest dividing factor. There are many types (in terms of quality) of education, which result in the form of social polarization and divide. Our Education is producing the masters and slaves. Unfortunately master and slave relationship has never worked to form a nation with integrity.
    Only nations with vision and love for knowlege can own the personalities like Dr. Abdusalam.Recommend

  • israr

    can we have somebody from any religious party in Pakistan to comment on this…..Recommend

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    nice articleRecommend

  • arthur zobo

    To each nation its own tribulations.Dr.Abdus Salam's greatness both as a human being and as a scientist cannot be belittled or swept away with vitriolic rhetoric.He was a 'colossal among men'. A personal tribute to him:In his home city of Jhang when the first English medium school was founded in 1991 a letter was written to him telling him about the feat.Promptly came the reply that he would like to fund its Science laboratories from Trieste.There was joy among the students and staff.A House had already been named after him in the new school and this lab would be a befitting reminder of his Love for his roots.However,when the tidings were conveyed to the D.C.(who happened to be the Chairman of the Board) he turned pale.It couldn't be done.Why ?Because the marauders of Religion would burn down the labs!So the opportunity was lost.Dr. Salam was informed.He was a sad man__his roots had once again being torn asunder.But he was not the loser___the city was.After the departure of the first Principal even the house named after him was changed! A new private school came up in 1994 and since the Government could not decide its policies,a House was again named after this great scientist and son of the soil.By now Dr.Salam had fallen ill and his correspondence was being answered by his son, Ahmad.When the children of the school sent Dr.Salam a ' Get well card' with names of all the school children written on it,he had the card personally read out to him and sent a reply immediately.A few days later we heard the sad news of his demise.The school observed a two minutes silence and prayers for him in the morning assembly. I had the opportunity of attending his funeral at Rabwah.There were thousand of mourners from all over the world___of all religions and beliefs.In his Death Dr.Salam had united Humanity and the humane amongst us.RIP We didn't deserve you!

  • ayesha

    hi mr.XYZ fo ur kind info Dr.SLAm never left his country until his last breath. He z burried here in his own country according to his will. he never changed his nationality/identity even when he has the golden oppertunities to do so. he was offered by many countries to get thr nationality n to own em by traveling on thr passport. it cud b an honor fo ny1 whomsoeva he wud hv accepted to own, but he dint do so. HE LOVED his country n denied to awl other proposals n he remain loyal n faithful until his death. u hv to come up wid solid things n to emanate such again.Recommend

  • xxyz

    Ayesha, I don’t think you understood what I said, please read my comments again or have some one translate it to you, in what ever language you understand better. No hard feelings, and have some one translate this post also, before you make any comments !!!!!Recommend

  • http://hallroad.pk jack

    First of all excellent article i must say,for countless reasons to be honest.First and foremost it shed light on great achievement by a PAKISTANI man ,a scientist who discovered something most people wont be able to or simply don’t have the capabilities to and shedding light on his achievements is a very good piece of work Ms Anam.secondly this article showed another side totally of the topic and that side was how our people are, the level of discrimination within them and there short failings in recognizing something which is amazing.
    link http://www.pakjobs.pkRecommend

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  • ihsan

    he never relinquished his pakistani identity….the pakistani passport which the demand of which requires abusing his religious ideasRecommend

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    My brother recommended I might like this blog. He was totally right. This post actually made my day. You can not imagine simply how much time I had spent for this info! Thanks!Recommend

  • ayesha

    gr8 sir… I must say v.welll written indeed defended….:) speechlessRecommend

  • waqas

    he was a great manRecommend

  • TheOnlyPakiHere

    What kind of stupid article is this! What do you mean Pakistan doesn’t deserve someone like this great man. From the 1970’s, actually since the death of Jinnah, we’ve been against most of our rulers, ‘we’ meaning the patriots who decided not to abandon the country for wealth. It is just a few leaders who forced this talent to leave (for religion not for wealth). Real Pakistanis love AbdusSalam for bringing us pride, and don’t care about him being Ahmedi. That is his personal matter. To the writer, you are an analyst who, like the rest, do everything in your ability to try defaming Pakistan, that’s the problem with our media. Don’t you realize the country needs hope, and you are amongst the few that can bring this hope. But all you try to bring is hopelessness. This comes from a true patriotic Pakistani living in Pakistan.Recommend

  • TheOnlyPakiHere

    Certainly, Pakistanis like you didn’t deserve a person like him. Why doesn’t our media do something positive, why is it that most of us don’t even know his involvement in the project when we all know about the project itself. That’s the problem here, when there’s good news, it’s kept hidden. When a 14 year old boy commits suicide which is sad I agree, but what’s surprising is that they compare it with “Tarey Zameen Par’ and say he didn’t have that kind of mentor! The difference between a bollywood movie and reality needs to be understood. Aside from needing a new government, we urgently need a new media system. And articles like this need to be removed.Recommend

  • Amin ur Rahman

    Dr.Abdul Salam is the best physicist in the world. If not now,one day every person in the world will accept this reality.He is the true Muslim,the Ahmadi Muslim,The man of God, getting guidance from the holy book”Quran”.Recommend