Dr Abdus Salam who?

Published: November 29, 2011

Is religious bigotry the only reason behind the lack of recognition accorded to Dr Salam?

Recently the 15th death anniversary of one of Pakistan’s greatest sons, the Nobel Laureate Dr Abdus Salam, passed away unnoticed. One often hears well-meaning voices and laments in the national media about how Pakistan cruelly and ungratefully refused to honour its only Nobel Prize recipient, just because he was from the Ahmadiyya community.

But is religious bigotry the only reason behind the lack of recognition accorded to Dr Salam? Pakistanis as a nation have a few iron-clad traditions that are rigorously followed come what may. The most prominent of these is to mistreat anyone who does any favour to this country.

Let’s take a look at some of the people who served Pakistan diligently and the way they were repaid by the nation.

Liaquat Ali Khan, who held the country together in the face of numerous threats and conspiracies, was murdered in front of thousands, with the incident remaining uninvestigated even after all these years. Former Prime Minister Feroze Khan Noon was one of the more prominent leaders of the freedom movement, who gave up his knighthood on Quaid-i-Azam’s orders.  He helped increase Pakistan’s geographical boundaries by acquiring Gwadar. Till now no other civilian or military ruler has a similar achievement to his or her credit. Less than four weeks after Gwadar was added to Pakistan, his government was toppled by the guardians of the country’s geographical frontiers.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan’s first democratically-elected prime minister, who was the father of the country’s nuclear programme, the 1973 Constitution and the policy of building an indigenous defence manufacturing base, was sentenced to death in a trial where the judges’ personal prejudice against him was very obvious. Former Governor Sindh Hakeem Muhammad Said, whose services in the field of medicine and education are matchless, was assassinated in cold blood, with his murderers still at large over a decade after the incident.

So my advice to all compassionate souls, who lament the lack of recognition for Dr Salam’s achievements, is that it’s not just religious bigotry that afflicts Pakistan. We also suffer a genetic, in-born trait to turn on all benefactors with a vengeance. At least Dr Salam died a peaceful death.

Amna Lone

Amna Lone

A sub-editor for The Express Tribune’s editorial pages.

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

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=647842094 The Reader

    Talk about Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, Imran Khan and Abdus Sattar Edhi etcetera. Why do we then respect and revere them? Being the ungrateful and spiteful Pakistani nation that we, we’d do much better to discard them as ‘waste’ ASAP.Recommend

  • KKJ

    RESPECT FOR HIM…. Recommend

  • sajid

    I was doing my O-levels and never knew Pakistan had a nobel prize winner let alone who it was. None of the other kids in my class knew about Dr. Abdus salam either. Wheras we all study about Liaquat Ali Khan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto etc. Although I agree there is a difference between studying about them and recognising their contributions at least we know that these people existed, same cannot be said about Dr.Abdus Salam.
    If this is not religious bigotry then what is it?Recommend

  • Pakistani

    Dr. Salam’s personality is totally different from others. The main thing which distinguish him from others is that he was a nobel laurate and no one other from Pakistan has done same achievement. And it is religious bigotry that GOP is not celebrating his birth/death anniversary. Recommend

  • Umer

    Isn’t Liaquat Ali Khan the one who let Hindus die at the hand of fanatics in East Pakistan to save his constituency in the newly created Pakistan, forcing the JInnah appointed first Law Minister Mandal a Hindu to resign in protest, thus setting the stage for religious bigotry, violence and persecution for ever? If anything Liaqauat only got the ending that he allowed Hindus in East Pakistan. Poetic justice, don’t you think?

    Isn’t Zulfikar Ali Bhutto the one who messed in Afghanistan first causing the remaining issues we all are suffering from now, allowed mullahs to take power and allowed them to butcher Ahmadis in 1974 and set the precedent for taking way citizens’ rights on the basis of faith? He also got the ending that he allowed others for during his government.

    Can Abdus Slam be compared to these two? Was he ever a bigot or justified or accepted violence like the two above? He was shoved out of the country because of the treatment to his community, not exactly pleasant. I don’t know why you think he was peaceful in his death knowing that nothing was going right in his country.Recommend

  • Modazul

    Bhutto was murdered on the orders of America because of his nuclear program and influence on Arabs and their oil. Liaquat ali khan was murdered again for America cz he wanted a non aligned policy and America wanted Pakistan to be tied with it and also cz the Punjabi Ayub khan wanted Punjab leader, hence shifted capital from KHI to Islamabad. Benazir bhutto again died cz America found a great puppet in zardariRecommend

  • Umer

    A sub editor on the sports desk of The
    Express Tribune.

    Stick to sports. :)Recommend

  • carved nation

    With all due respect.. can you please let the nation understand how can all these personalities who had little more or less some political background can b compared with Dr Salam… and thanks for being kind enough by saying “At least Dr Salam died a peaceful death.”Recommend

  • Tariq

    Amna, unfortunately this is a very badly written blog. You are comparing oranges to pears. Dr Abdus Salam was a Nobel laureate and, as you would know, the Nobel Prize is considered to be the most prestigious award a person can obtain. The fact that Abdus Salam received it in pursuit of the Holy Grail of physics (the unification of fundamental forces) is a testament to his genius, hard work and perseverance. The other people you mentioned are not in the same category. Indeed, a number of them are politicians with disputable legacies (e.g. Bhutto’s role in radicalising Pakistan and his role in the alienation of the Bengalis which ultimately led to Pakistan’s dismemberment).

    As one reader has already pointed out, at least Pakistanis hear about the other people you mentioned. The sole reason why people do not hear about Abdus Salam is because he was an Ahmadi. This is a shame because he was arguably more dedicated to Pakistan that some of the politicians you have mentioned. Generally, every Ahmadi who has made major contributions to Pakistan has been airbrushed out of its history.

    I would suggest that you go back to sport writing, which appears to be your focus anyways.Recommend

  • Shahid

    Unlike all other Nobel laureates Dr Salam received his Nobel prize clad in purely a Pakistani dress, turban and sherwani, for which he had to seek permission from the organizers of the function, only to prove that he loved his country most. he was denied from serving his country and nation by Gen. Zia, the then president of Pakistan, and finally he offered his services to Italy and started his research there. A true hero of the nation in the most true sense he was. What elements other than religious bigotry forced Gen. Zia not to accept his services. It seems that God favoured the country with a genuine genius but they valued him not,and now the nation is bankrupt of any genius of international standard. No doubt the nation has heroes, but to everyone’s dismay most of them are found to be corrupt in one way or the other.Recommend

  • muhammad ilyas

    it’s not just ahmadis who face persecution in pakistan.Atheists,agnostics and the gay community face horrific persecution in pakistan.forget the mullahs,the ordinary,everyday ”moderate” muslims also spew hate and bigotry against atheists and agnostics.anybody daring to have a difference of opinion is seen as a threat,a threat that the religious fanatics counter with extreme hate and discrimination.Recommend

  • Hindu Indian

    And the dog around the street died because it barked at the American National flag, wake up bhaiRecommend

  • https://twitter.com/xafrii Muzaffar

    I remember my university days, when I was telling fellow students about Dr. Salam while discussing Nobel Prize, while most of people did not even knew about his achievement one of them said, “He did not win the nobel prize, he just shared it with a Jew Scientist”. As if he did a crime by sharing the Nobel prize with a non-muslim.

    Dr. Salam was deprived the honor which he deserved only because he considered himself to be an Ahmadi MUSLIM. I consider nothing more despicable then to use the above argument to condone and even justify the treatment given to Dr. Abdus Salam. No doubt he was the greatest mind Pakistan has yet produced.Recommend

  • http://deleted Ali Tanoli

    Very short and uncomplete analysis.Recommend

  • Ali Noor

    @Amna: you left out Mr. Muhammed Farooq Khan, an educationist, and Vice-Chancellor of Swat Islamic University who was silenced by the so called taliban, just because he wanted to change the hate filled curriculum of our schools introduced by Zia.

    ps ET why are my comments never published as of lately, if their is a reason email me on the address I leave every time I comment. Thank you.Recommend

  • Osama Iqbal

    Im glad that in a country like ours where we spend meagre 1.5% of our Revenues on Education , we still do have some educated people who make the world recognize of Pakistan’s existence that they have a Nobel Prize Winner , though who did not get the accolades that should have been given, he was a great opportunity who could have done marvels for Pakistan and its people , however the then bureaucrats and govt had some other plans ( plans to appease the religious mullahs) . Thus due to his affiliation with Ahmadiyya Community he was never mentioned in the text books of Physics even. Thankyou Ms Amna Lone , you have helped in igniting the fire for which there might be a Revolutionary change in the heart of every Pakistani.Recommend

  • M M Malik

    The services of Zafrulla Khan, another Ahmadi cannot be ignored. He was the president of the All India Muslim League in its 1931 session, he drafted the precursor to the Pakistan Resolution, his services for the Kashmir cause and the Arab nations are unmatched. Recommend

  • http://solomon2.blogspot.com Solomon2

    “We also suffer a genetic, in-born trait to turn on all benefactors with a vengeance. ”

    If you say so. But does that excuse Pakistanis from rising above their basic instincts to higher levels of civility?Recommend

  • rizwana

    wow that was plain sadRecommend

  • Umer

    Everybody I know who studies is given adus Salam as an example to follow. What else shall we do! Walk around with his photo stamped on our head? Another pathetic blog trying to give another reason about how we don’t tke care of minorities etc. Recommend

  • Vigilant

    I personally appreciate Dr. Abdus Salam but blog is Incomplete & Waste of Space…..Recommend

  • CB Guy

    this has nothing to do with religion, this is the bigotry at a national level that consumes just about everyone. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, father of the nation is called a baba by today’s youth. You really think we can stoop any lower? Most names in that list deserve a lot more then they get.

    As for Bhutto, please do not forget he was the world’s first civil marshal administrator who in my opinion gets too much praise for not his performance but his speaking abilities. To this date, we suffer from the disastrous decisions such as nationalization rupee against dollar in one fiscal year.

    We can not differentiate who is good for us and who is not. Recommend

  • Parvez

    Liked your write up. At least you have the courage to say what should be said, in the hope that it may make a difference, no matter how small.
    The malady that you talk of in your closing sentences is why we are still a country and not a nation.Recommend

  • Ibrar khan

    “Pakistanis as a nation have a few iron-clad traditions that are rigorously followed come what may. The most prominent of these is to mistreat anyone who does any favour to this country.”
    I have rarely seen such true words in Pakistani print media. You surely carry a very wise head on your young shoulders. Great. Keep the good words flowing.Recommend

  • tahir ahmad

    we proud ofRecommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/9138/dr-abdus-salam-who/ Kamran Azim

    When people remember people, they remember the good things: what they did for the people? religion should not be amalgamated with their work. We remember Ghalib due to his poetry and not his infamous hobbies or habits, we remember Ahmad Faraz for his poetry but not his Sagar-o-mena. We remember Einstein, Newton etcetera for their work and not their religion. I don’t know when people will stop the hypocrisy. Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/9138/dr-abdus-salam-who/ Kamran Azim

    Let me add what Ghalib said for himself: Shayir tho acha hai, per badnaam bohth hai. Recommend

  • Rashid


    So you came here too with your Anti-Pak comments. Make that comment on def.pk tooRecommend

  • Umer


    What else shall we do! Walk around
    with his photo stamped on our head?

    How about stop messing with his gravestone for a start?Recommend

  • acha bacha

    Either Writer needs to change the Title name form Dr. Salam who? or body text. Well i expected to read something about reverent Dr. Abdul Salam, but my this attempt go in vain because writer himself don’t what is he actually going to talk about? writer started with Dr shb n end at Z.A Bhutto who are poles apart.Recommend

  • MAK

    Great Article. I salute the writers of English News Papers atleast as I have not gone through any example in Urdu ( which may exist). As per my knowledge University of Maiduguri, Nigeria, was the first to grant the honorary degree to Prof Muhammad Abdul Salam. May Allah bless our country. LOVE FOR ALL HATRED FOR NONERecommend

  • Awais Khan

    Indeed! Due to the spread of intolerance in the society, many quarters who have always contributed to the progress of Pakistan have been isolated.Recommend

  • Muhammad Arslan Usman

    Respect every pakistaniRecommend

  • Insomniac

    I’m afraid Amna Lone is comparing oranges with apples. My dear they are entirely different personalities in diffrent fields. Have any of your politicians really earned a good reputation in world’s stage? If you allow me I blame these stinky politicians for the current situations.

  • Xam Xaffar

    So True. Love Your ArticLe.Recommend

  • Xam Xaffar

    @ The Reader; We Haven’t Done Anything For Edhi, Imran Khan Or AQ Khan, Niether Has The Government. We Just Sit Back And Acknowledge; Which, Considering, Is Still Big Of Us.Recommend

  • Usman Waraich

    Your premise was interesting that Pakistan’s ill treatment of Dr Salam is not due to religous bigotary being widely pervasive in Pakistan. However, your research on the matter is incomplete and comparison drawn ill placed.

    I know few of our friends get irritated if we talk about minority rights etc, so it is a chance for them to take this argument forward and prove that your assertion is well placed, you obviously have made a hash of it, so do give Umer’s advice a serious thought..Recommend

  • Mrs K

    Errrrm…im not sure if I get the point of this article? Two wrongs do not make one right miss Lone. Just because Pakistan forgets some political leaders, it does not mean it is also OK to forget great minds. Are you even aware what Dr. Abdus Salam did?? If you had the slightest clue you wouldnt compare him to those unsufferable former politicians!

    In case you are wondering, let me explain it in absolute lay terms. There are so far four (4) fundamental forces in physics, that basically make the universe work. Namely
    1) gravity
    2) electromagnetism
    3) the strong force (strong interaction)
    4) the weak force ( weak interaction)

    And Salam discovered one of these forces. So basically what he did, only 3 other people before him have done it …and you comparing him to some politicians.

    Worse than neglecting a country’s heroes is to try to justy that neglect.

    Basic Physics and ethics lecture closed.Thank you!Recommend

  • http://sanarites.blogspot.com Sana Iqbal

    The government of Pakistan should dissolve Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and end its nuclear program as the scientific founding father was an Infidel Dr Abdus Salam. How on earth can us Pakeezah muslims have haram nuclear weapons. Lets dissolve this one and wait until a sunni/wahabi/salafi develops a halal one :PRecommend

  • kiran ahmad

    while reading your article, a pleasant ray of hope arose inside me that at least even in new generation, people are there who know about Dr. Salam and acknowledge that what we had done with such great souls just because of Mullaism. we can not abounded Islam but are we still ready to tolerate such type of fanaticism? Recommend

  • Nazir Ahmed

    @Modazul: Get your facts right please. Ayub Khan
    was not a Punjabi. He was Pathan from the NWFP (now KP).Recommend

  • Hummad Haider

    Great job…Amna Lone simplified it!

    Nice blogRecommend

  • Saulat

    If you folks in Pakistan don’t want to value Dr Salam’s legacy … please pass it on to us in India. We will welcome and value him and his Legacy!Recommend

  • Xn

    Nice post Amina….But lets get to the bigger picture, the history is always and will always remain biased because it is not written merely by a typewriter who does not have any emotions, limitations, corrsion and self interests but by a human. You ll always find Hindu history degrading muslims and viceversa. I agree Pakistan is for all, and everybody should realize that he is a Pakistani first and then a muslim,hindu,christian and ahmadi with an equal right to live a good and free life. Differences are everywhere and will always remain there. ZA bhutto was an intelligent person, no doubt, but one should associate only attrbutable things to one’s self. I had a photocopy of ZA bhutto’s letter to Ayub Khan while he was a foreign minister, he went ahead so much in admiration that he even called AK as a leader greater than MA Jinnah. His acts to stabalize the situation post 71 are admirable indeed. But overglorification be avoided. Similarly, Abdus salam was indeed a great scientist and won a nobel prize for the country. But even in exile, did he make anysignificant effort to promote his knowledge in his home country?……Had Pakistan gained anything in real from his achievements in the field of nuclear physics (in fact, when i was having a discussion one of my close relative who is at a high place in related organization, he noted that Pakistanis are not allowed to pursue higher studies in nuclear physics abroad and Indians dominated the institute which was created by Dr A Salam). And lastly, who can forget Quaid’s words ,”I have nothing but mutilated coins in my pocket”. But nevertheless, an appriciable attempt. Recommend

  • Omar M

    Mr. Umer …. a good response …. one rectification though that Ayub Khan was a Pathan and not a Punjabi …. Recommend

  • Omar M

    Sorry that was for Mr. Modazul …. Not for Mr. Umer …. Recommend

  • Deb


    I second it sincerely.Recommend

  • Saulat

    @Deb: In fact, posthumously, India should bestow upon Dr Salam honorary citizenship and laud him and his legacy as a product of our sub-continent. It would give inspiration to many students in India who focus on research in the basic sciences like physics. These research areas are not glamorous and do not attract many students. It would also encourage minorities in India to study basic sciences and pursue research scientist opportunities. Recommend

  • http://www.qern.org/ Ahmed Qerni

    Government College University Lahore has a Mathematics Institute in Dr. Salam’s name. —
    the highest mathematical institute in the country.

    How much money has the Ahmadiyya Community spent on honouring his legacy?

    Dr. Salam is not a politician, he was a scientist in one field, and ALL science graduates in Pakistan know about him.

    Cut the typical Qadiani whinging, and do something practical for Dr. Salam’s legacy, like spending some of the money your Khalifa spends on raising horses.Recommend

  • Farhan Ijaz

    Before the declaration of Ahmadis as non Muslim Dr. Salam was an advisor to Mr. Bhutto he served the Government at various positions but after the declaration and the negligence that he faced he was forced to leave Pakistan. Leaving Pakistan does not mean that his love for the country was over he contributed his part even living away from his homeland by helping the deserving students to study on scholarships which was not possible without his help and if someone was not able to make it doesn’t mean that he supported Indians or for that matter any other national. Apart from his life as a scientist he was the citizen of country and he played a very vital role in early establishment of education in Pakistan. On his own he established laboratories in remote areas of the country like Jhang, Sahiwal etc. So saying that his legacy can be ignored by anyone specially in Pakistan is not possible. If he had given the chance and resources to work in Pakistan things definitely would have different and better than now.

    I hope your worries are clear that he didn’t do anything for the country during exile. As far as saying that “Khalifa spends on raising horses” with all due respect to my friend please do visit to see the horses and if you found any share it with all. Try to understand that debate is not on he being Ahmadi debate is about all those great personalities who served us in their own capacity and we dis-honed them its not about the religion its about the country. This ideology and way of thinking is the reason that we are left alone in the world. Still if we did not change our thinking things will go worse.

    To the writer of the Blog would like to say its a great effort keep it up.Recommend

  • Umer

    @Ahmed Qerni:

    Cut the typical Qadiani whinging

    Cut the typical Qadiani persecution from the state to the common man on ground and then ask them that. Would be more relevant then.

    Why do Ahmadis need to spend anything on Salam’s legacy? Hasn’t Salam, an Ahmadi, done enough for Pakistan? Is there another person who has single handedly done more? So time for now others to take lead for a change, own his contribution to them and if they like finance his legacy which will only benefit them and not Ahmadis. So no point pushing it on Ahmadis.Recommend

  • Tahir

    Dr Abdus Salam should be revered for what he did and not ignored for what he practiced.Recommend

  • umar iqbal

    He sure is a hero. No doubt. There are good Pakistani hero’s still alive and trying their asses off for the betterment of the country, the likes of Eidhi, Imran Khan, Faheem Barni and so on.
    But no doubt great respect for Abdus salam no matter what sect. he belongs to.
    May his soul rest in peace. Ameen.Recommend

  • Red


    Blockquote> Isn’t Zulfikar Ali Bhutto the one who messed in Afghanistan first causing the remaining issues we all are suffering from now, allowed mullahs to take power and allowed them to butcher Ahmadis in 1974 and set the precedent for taking way citizens’ rights on the basis of faith? He also got the ending that he allowed others for during his government.Blockquote


    thats a very old Ahmadi argument.. u should realise that by awarding ahmadis the status of minority.. Bhutto made it a state responsibility to ensure their safety.. it can be easily proven that from the time of the earliest Caliphs of Ahmadiyya.. the Ahmadis would distinguish themselves from mainstream muslims. But then that is a different topic altogether. Recommend

  • Red

    He was not the greatest mind ever produced.. do you ever get to know the names of the scientists or even the organization that is responsible for developing missile delivery systems for Pakistan.. or who were the Pakistanis who weaponized the Uranium enriched by AQ Khan? the best minds of ALL COUNTRIES are guarded by their nations..

    so please do not make emotional statements. the Nobel Prize although is an honor.. but in no way, is proof of superiority over those who don’t come forward.. Recommend

  • Naila

    @Ahmed Qerni:
    If you dont know about our Khalifa, dont talk about him. Period. And the Ahmadiyya Jamat does spend money on institutes like the TAHIR HEART INSTITUTE in Rabwah, Pakistan. Which offers free medical treatment whether you are Ahmadi or not. THINK before you WRITE mister.


  • Shaesta

    Great man but society ignored him for his belief.Recommend