Nisar Teri Gallion Pay Ai Watan

(Posted by YLH)

A few weeks ago an ignorant little Mullah from the Jamaat-e-Islami claimed that Dr. Salam’s achievement in science was nothing compared to many other great scientists of Pakistan and that Salam got the Nobel Prize because he was a “Jewish agent”.  I suppose one of these “great scientists” he was referring to was the idiot who read his paper on “how to harness the power of genies for electricity production” at Zia’s famous “Science Conference” in International Islamic University in the 1980s.   Well this article by Kunwar Idris in Dawn shows just how amazing a scientist and how  great a patriot Dr. Salam was- especially in comparion to the crooks, cranks and madmen who have now become- to use Justice Kiyani’s apt phrase-  the chachas and mamas of Pakistan:

Abdus Salam’s 15th death anniversary went unnoticed recently. The 25th death anniversary of Waheed Murad that fell on the same day was celebrated with fanfare. They say nations which do not honour their great men cease to produce them.

Pakistan, for sure, has produced no scientist of Salam’s stature nor perhaps an actor of Waheed’s popularity. Whether it is serious research or playful acting, the national scene remains barren.

Forgotten or celebrated, Pakistan’s few great men were born of accident. In the case of Abdus Salam it was not just one but a series of accidents. More strikingly, in converting accidents into opportunities, help to Salam came not from friends but from strangers. Ironically, when the people who should have been helping him created hurdles even that opened the door to new opportunity.

Having earned every degree that he could, setting new records before he was 19, Salam’s urge to go for research abroad would have remained unfulfilled had Sir Chhotu Ram, Punjab’s revenue minister and a benefactor of the rural poor, not arranged a scholarship for him at Cambridge. That was the first accident with help coming from an unexpected quarter.

As a Cambridge wrangler (first class of the mathematical tripos) and PhD in theoretical physics, Salam came back to teach at his alma mater. He thus seemed set on a course which, with luck, would have some day made him principal of Government College unless he was persuaded to join the ICS. Then came a second accident. He had gone to Bombay to attend an international scientific conference with the permission of the principal. He defied an order to return, leaving the conference halfway, because the education minister had not approved of his participation.

He resigned rather than face the charge and went back to teach at Cambridge. Three years later he became the youngest ever professor at London’s Imperial College and fellow of the Royal Society. There he freely debated with atheist Bertrand Russell the existence of God and with Albert Einstein the Islamic view of the unity of forces.

In 1959, there was to be yet another accident. India’s high commissioner in London brought to him an invitation from Pundit Nehru to visit India. There Nehru offered him a minister’s rank at a salary he would himself name with no questions asked about money spent or wasted on particle research. Taken unawares, Salam sought time to think it over, came back and reported to President Ayub what had transpired. He declined a similar offer from Ayub, but agreed to act as his scientific adviser while remaining at Imperial College. That was the period when the foundations of Pakistan’s atomic energy commission and nuclear power plants were laid.

He also advised the president to establish an international research centre in Pakistan where scientists from across the world would meet to exchange ideas and knowledge. The finance minister opposed the plan because he felt it was tantamount to setting up a five-star hotel for Salam and his friends. Again declining an Indian offer to host the centre, whatever the cost, he founded the centre at Trieste with a major contribution coming from the Italian government. Thousands of scientists have since passed through Trieste — no less than 500 from Pakistan. The centre is now named after Abdus Salam. Surely, by now Pakistan would have been a hub of scientific research had Ayub’s finance minister not ridiculed Salam’s plan.

After winning the Nobel Prize in 1979, Salam was not invited to his own college. He did not even figure in Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s count of distinguished old Ravians. It was Pakistan’s darkest period of prejudice and intellectual sterility. By contrast when he went to Aligarh Muslim University to receive an honorary doctorate, the whole city turned up to greet him and students pushed his car for a mile to the campus. The scene at Guru Nanak University was no less exhilarating.

Salam’s repeated pleas to Islamic countries to contribute just one per cent of their export earnings to a research fund went unheeded. No wonder that Salam is the only one from the Islamic world ever to have won the Nobel Prize in the physical sciences.

Scientists who benefited from Salam’s Trieste centre — Mujahid Kamran, Ghulam Murtaza and Pervez Hoodbhoy among them — now struggle to make up for the lost time and opportunities. A school of mathematics named after him is fast gaining recognition. LUMS too has established an Abdus Salam chair.

Even the people at large are fast shedding the prejudices fostered by politicians. The scientists and citizens of today alike would go along with what Prof Ahmad Ali of Aligarh had to say in 1979: ‘Abdus Salam is not the name of a person but of a movement that seeks to wipe out poverty and ignorance. It is a movement for knowledge and wisdom, action and endurance, to restore pride in our own culture and to wage jihad against prejudice, tyranny and exploitation’.

When Salam came to deliver the Faiz Memorial Lecture at Lahore, people wondered what a hard-nosed scientist and a romantic poet had in common. ‘We both are persona non grata in our own country,’ Salam explained. Then he showed to the audience the couplet Faiz once wrote in his own hand in Salam’s diary when they met at a foreign airport: Nisar mein teri galiyon pe ai watan keh jahan chali hai rasm key koi na sar utha ke chaley (My life is dedicated to the streets of the motherland where custom demands that no one should walk with head held high). It is a sad thought that Pakistan’s most brilliant scientist and most popular poet should have been the prime victims of that custom.

Finally, here is an example of Salam’s humour and humility thrown into one. Asked whether Jhang, the village of Heer, would henceforth be known as the village of Salam, he replied: ‘Remember there is only one Heer, Nobel laureates are many.’ Indeed there are but only one came from Pakistan. When we can walk the streets with our heads held high will be the day to remember Salam and Faiz. It would not be possible without them.


Filed under Pakistan, Physics, Science

6 responses to “Nisar Teri Gallion Pay Ai Watan

  1. Majumdar

    Salam’s urge to go for research abroad would have remained unfulfilled had Sir Chhotu Ram not arranged a scholarship for him at Cambridge

    Bhaijan, I dont think you shud highlight this link. A Hanood that too a Unionist one helping Dr sb wudnt go down too well at a time when he is already suspected of having Yahood links.

    There Nehru offered him a minister’s rank at a salary

    I guess it wud have been better if Dr sb had accepted Nehru’s offer, not the useless Syed Sajjad Zaheer

    I wud have readily foregone Aryan Babbar for a Nobel.


  2. ravinder

    I had read about Dr. Salam, sometime back. With the need to protect the environment, humans will be forced to start working in entirely new ways, the change IMO could be as important as the kicking in of the industrial age. The scientists and technocrats and venture fund managers may come up and sundry intellectuals and old time security hunting bankers may begin to give way.
    Pakistan’s as also of India’s scientific contribution seem to be laging behind. Though I am hoping that the perceptible lag is due to the serendipitous nature of human effort. But still a Margin of Safety would have been desirable. I just wish more investments (monetary, time and trust) are made in fundamental sciences and scientific cooperation is not hindered any way (the hacking of emails of climate change scientists has left a bad taste in the mouth of every right thinking man-whichever side is correct, the trust factor has and will become a collateral damage). Also the technical effort and private sector are still not moving fast enough to provide any Margin of Safety.

  3. Anwar

    He indeed was a great person – well worth the respect and honor. I wish this nation had treated him with dignity….

  4. Abdus Salam was a great man indeed!! Perhaps one of the very, very few genuinely great men our country produced and of course the only one brilliant enough to be a noble laureate.
    Truly, had this nation not conditioned his presence with the rasm of sar jhukana, he’d have lent it leaps in scientific thought and research. Sadly though, this nation tends not to value it’s heroes..

  5. Kam

    He indeed was a great man and one who probably will not born again in Pakistan.
    One of the biggest problem with Pakistan is its people (general public). So called “educated” are in fact truly un-educated and never appreciate a good man no matter whether his work is for education, government, welfare or whatever. Pakistanis only know how to appreciate good food and good tv drama and thats where their thinking stops. Try talking to them about economy, politics, technology or anything else and they don’t have a clue, however, one thing they do know is to overcome what they lack in knowledge by saying “Allah will do everything”. So for a nation who believes in a miracle, not appreciating a good scientist means nothing. It is a common practice in Pakistan to blame the whole world for own shortcomings, and instead of accepting the facts about the country they choose to keep eyes close and live in denial. If by miracle someone does raise voice for the right reasons he is branded as “an agent or a Jew” .
    In politics, one can put an angel on the seat but after a year public will find faults in him also.
    So nothing surprises me anymore about Pakistan, unless they wake up they will never progress and will always live on handouts that they are used to now.
    In recent years the only progress in Pakistan has been in the growth of the facial hair. Almost every other man not matter how old or young carries a foot long beard to hide behind. Why hide behind?
    Well for a nation who calls itself a Muslim nation Pakistan is the most corrupt country in the world.
    There isn’t a sin which is not part of every day life in Pakistan, Lie, bribe, cheat, steel, rob, rape, kill are all part of every day life in Pakistan.
    So unless a true miracle happens there is no hope that this country will ever appreciate an educated man or spend on education they way they need to.

  6. Kam

    Since my posting above I have received few emails with the following comments “Salam was not a Muslim” .
    Everyone who has such narrow views should read my comments above, this is exactly what I speak of that general public in Pakistan is very uneducated.
    Regardless of whether he was a Muslim or not he was an asset for the country.
    Just take example of the West here, just to prove this ridiculous comments from some of our less intellect Pakistani public who always want to mix religion with economy and development. If every country only promoted their own scientists if they had that country’s religion then this world will not be where it is today i.e. Ajay Bhatt of India invented the USB via Intel living in US so America should not have recognized his development just because he is not American Christian? He was not even American he was an immigrant to America!

    I will repeat once again what I said above is that Pakistan will NEVER progress and the only reason behind is its own public, narrow views, lack of education, no general knowledge with 98% of public with IQ ZERO. Their continuous inability to understand the basics of development and economy, their continuous mixing of religion with science, development, economy, sports etc.
    Only and Only a miracle can save that country otherwise it shall and will remain poor and badly under developed that it is today.
    And please, we really need to stop blaming the government because no government can educate this public unless public want to educate themselves.