The contribution of Abdus Salam,a Nobel laureate whose work had a significant contribution in the recent success of the ‘God particle’ project,continues to be ignored by Pakistan,where he was treated “hypocritically” due to his Ahmadiya background,his son said today.
Abdus Salam,is ignored and even scorned in Pakistan,whose citizenship he continued to hold until his death in 1996,despite offers of citizenship from India and other countries.
Ahmad Salam,the London-based investment banker son of the Nobel laureate,said: “There is a consistent hypocrisy in Pakistan. When it suited them,they took advice from him on nuclear and science issues,but would never be seen to engage with him officially”.
“Officials from Pakistan’s atomic and other agencies would travel all over the world to seek my father’s advice behind closed doors,but officially they never engaged with him. I was told that when some cabinet ministers wanted to attend his funeral,they were told not to”,he said.
The ‘ultimate insult’,he said,was when the word ‘Muslim’ on his father’s tomb in Pakistan,which initially read ‘First Muslim Nobel Laureate’ was erased on the orders of the local magistrate.
The highest official representative for the funeral was the local police inspector.
Pakistan’s constitution was amended in 1974 to declare that Ahmadiyas were not considered Muslims under the country’s law.
All Pakistani passport applicants are required to sign a section saying the Ahmadi faith’s founder,Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad who died in 1908,was an ‘impostor’ and that his followers are ‘non-Muslims’.
Ahmad Salam said his father was very touched by the ‘phenomenal warmth and affection’ he received during his visit to India after winning the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1979,and recalled that both Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi had offered him Indian citizenship.
Abdus Salam had close links with India,mainly with the academic community.
He was honoured by many Indian universities with doctorates and invitations to address their convocation ceremonies.
During a visit to India,Ahmad Salam said his father went to Punjab to meet his Mathematics teacher who was bed-ridden,and when they met,Salam took off his Nobel medal and placed it on his teacher’s chest,and said: “This is for you”.
The teacher had taught him in undivided India.
“Even now there is so much affection for my father in India. Manmohan Singh (Prime Minister) worked with my father in the South Commission,and just last year he spoke in glowing terms about him during a speech at the Third World Academy of Sciences in Hyderabad”,Ahmad Salam said.
Abdus Salam made a significant contribution in developing the theoretical framework that led to the recent success in the quest for Higgs Boson.
Abdus Salam and Steven Weinberg,with whom he shared the Nobel Prize,independently predicted the existence of a subatomic particle now called the Higgs boson,named after a British physicist who theorised that it endowed other particles with mass.
Ahmad Salam runs a charity organisation set up by his father, the Mohammad Hussain Hajra Hussain Nobel Talent Fund,to help meritorious students to come and study in the UK.
The Nobel laureate’s family is also closely involved with Imperial College London,where he set up the Theoretical Physics department.