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Pak shuns man linked to ‘God particle’

Pakistan’s Nobel laureate helped develop the theoretical framework that led to the apparent discovery of the subatomic “God particle” last week.

Written by Associated Press | Islamabad |
July 9, 2012 2:19:45 am

Pakistan’s only Nobel laureate helped develop the theoretical framework that led to the apparent discovery of the subatomic “God particle” last week,yet his legacy has been largely scorned in his homeland because of his religious affiliation.

It’s a sign of the growing Islamic extremism in his country.

Adbus Salam,who died in 1996,was once hailed for his work in physics and guidance in the early stages of Pakistan’s nuclear programme. Now his name is stricken from school textbooks because he was a member of the Ahmadi sect that has been persecuted by the government and targeted by militants,who view them as heretics.

Salam,a child prodigy born in 1926,won more than a dozen international prizes and honours. In 1979,he was co-winner of the Nobel Prize for his work on the so-called Standard Model of particle physics,which theorises how fundamental forces govern the overall dynamics of the universe.

Salam and Steven Weinberg,with whom he shared the Nobel Prize,independently predicted the existence of a subatomic particle now called the Higgs boson,said Pervez Hoodbhoy,a Pakistani physicist who once worked with Salam. In the 1960s and early 1970s,Salam wielded significant influence in Pakistan as the chief scientific adviser to the president.

Salam’s life,along with the fate of the 3 million other Ahmadis in Pakistan,drastically changed in 1974 when parliament amended the constitution to declare that members of the sect were not considered Muslims. Salam resigned in protest and eventually moved to Europe.

In contrast to Salam,fellow physicist A Q Khan,who played a key role in developing the country’s nuclear bomb and confessed to nuclear proliferation,is considered a national hero.

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