Monday, October 11, 2004

Dr Salam remembered on his 4th death anniversary

By Khalid Hasan

WASHINGTON: Dr Abdus Salam was remembered and tribute paid to his great achievements as a scientist, a visionary and a humanitarian at a meeting in Toronto last week.

Speakers from a range of disciplines spoke about Dr Salam, who died four years ago, describing him as someone of exceptional ability and commitment who had a vision for the future of his home country, Pakistan in particular, and the Muslims, in general.

Ziauddin Ahmed, who moderated the meeting organised by a local group, said in his opening remarks that if the Pakistan government and certain people had discriminated against or ignored Dr Salam, it was only evidence of their short-sightedness as it had deprived the country of the wisdom and knowledge of a true son of the soil. “He still lives in the hearts and minds of many people in Pakistan and beyond, and he has left behind a legacy in the form of scientific institutions, ironically, most of them outside the country he loved so much,” he added.

Zakaria Virk, author of a book on Dr Salam, the only Pakistani to have won a Nobel Prize, said the way this great son of Pakistan was treated brought to light something that was gravely wrong with the attitude and understanding of certain people in his country of origin.

He equated Dr Salam with the great storywriter Saadat Hasan Manto, none of whom had been officially owned. “Practically nothing is named after them, but they continue to inspire a lot of people with their work. They, each in his separate domain, have become immortal, and thereby earned true and lasting honour,” he added.

Khalid Sohail reflected on the many tragedies in Dr Salam’s life, adding that by far the biggest tragedy was that he loved Pakistan, a love that Pakistan never reciprocated. He also loved Muslims but many orthodox Muslims hated him, simply because of his religious beliefs. He called Salam a patriotic Pakistani scientist who once said, ”Pakistan is a country where religiosity and blind faith is more powerful than scientific and rational thinking and politically, where political and democratic institutions are subservient to the military.”

Ms presented a scientifically oriented narrative of Dr Salam’s work at different times in his life. Her detailed description of his scientific achievements was cheered as it added to the knowledge of students of science and career scientists who were present at the meeting. She said Dr Salam had spent every penny of his Nobel Prize money for the betterment of science in his home country, Pakistan. Ms Subuhi Ansari told the meeting that Dr Salam did not see any conflict between religious and scientific beliefs and actually equated a scientist with a mystic who explores and unlocks the mysteries of nature.

He firmly believed in “man’s moral state” and considered every man to be a “piece of the continent and a part of the main.”

During the question-answer session, a member of the audience wanted to know why Dr Salam did not question the declaration of the Ahmediyya community as non-Muslim through a suit in the International Court of Justice, to which Zakaria Virk said, “Dr Salam may not have considered it important, as it did not matter to him whether someone called him a Muslim or otherwise. For him it was a matter of personal belief.”
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