In Dr Salam’s footsteps: For budding scientists, science centre striving for excellence

Published: June 8, 2013
Dr Abdus Salam. PHOTO: FILE

Dr Abdus Salam. PHOTO: FILE


Pakistan’s only Nobel laureate, the late Dr Abdus Salam, had a dream to create an international platform for scientists from the developing world to be at par, technologically, with their peers in the developed world.

This wish was partially fulfilled during his lifetime when in 1964, the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) opened in Trieste, Italy, through hectic efforts. The centre, now called the Abdus Salam ICTP, continues to support scientists from developing countries.

Another effort to promote research in physics, along the lines envisioned by Salam, began in Islamabad in 2000 and has gradually picked up during the past five years.

On the eastern end of the Quaid-e-Azam University campus is the National Centre for Physics (NCP) — an autonomous but government-funded body — that conducts research in theoretical physics and allied disciplines.

The centre provides its facilities to local researchers and also collaborates with international organisations to bring scientific knowledge and skills to Pakistan.

NCP Director General Hamid Saleem said their aim is to become a centre that produces high quality research that promotes the spread of expertise by collaborating with Pakistani universities.

Saleem stated that “we don’t strive for excellence in research,” adding that “the centre’s emphasis is on developing strong research departments that can produce excellent scientists”.

The centre has three main research departments that deal with theoretical physics, nano-sciences and laser plasma physics. Affiliated departments are conducting research work in the fields of vacuum science, earthquake studies and experimental physics.

The past few years have been fruitful for the centre, Saleem said. The number of research papers, including in-house research and collaborative work, published in international journals has jumped to 192 in 2012 from only 12 in 2007 — a 1,500 per cent increase in six years, he informed.

Similarly, the number of external Pakistani researchers hosted by NCP has increased to 148 in 2012 from just two in 2007.

The NCP is also collaborating with international organisations such as the Abdus Salam ICTP and, most importantly, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) through the help of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. Located in Geneva, CERN is the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, famous for its particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

Data from CERN’s Compact Muon Solenoid detector — part of the LHC — is received at a 500-computer grid at the NCP where Pakistani researchers are using them for research that can be published with permission from CERN.

NCP scientists are actively involved in conducting the International Nathiagali Summer College — an annual summer camp has continued since 1974 — where scientists from the world over gather for scientific discussions each year.

Since 2009, the centre has also held International Scientific Spring (ISS) events where hundreds of Pakistani researchers and students get a chance to listen to talks by foreign and local eminent scientists.

Saleem said the 2012 and 2013 ISS conferences were held in collaboration with the Abdus Salam ICTP while another joint conference on Plasma Physics is planned for November 2013.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 8th, 2013. 

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Qasir
    Jun 8, 2013 - 11:38AM

    Best scientiest muslim world ever produced!


  • Ahmed
    Jun 8, 2013 - 12:09PM

    Please don’t make this article a debate about Ahmadis being Muslims or not. Which ever side you take, let this article be about Physics and science and research.


  • Zubair Khan
    Jun 8, 2013 - 12:45PM

    For the development of nations two things play pivotal role. The education and noble character traits. Who so ever ensures concentration on these two factors is aught to prosperous on this planet. When one sees struggle of Pakistani Nation on these two factors a very gloomy picture emerges. Leaving aside noble character traits even the education sector is also deteriorating in whole of country. In such a scenario a report where higher science education is showing a spiral trend is extremely encouraging. Who so ever is responsible for such noble deed needs lot of appreciation. This educational institute should rather serve as beacon of light for other educational institutes. Well done and keep it up NCP.


  • Farhan
    Jun 8, 2013 - 12:48PM

    Why not name this institute after him to recognise his contributions to Physics and Pakistan?


  • Murali Nair
    Jun 8, 2013 - 4:04PM

    Absolutely Ahmed. Scientists are Scientists. They just do not belong to any religion or sect other than the Religion of Science, and sects like Physics, Electronics etc. But they make all religions, all nations proud! Good luck for scientific education and research in Pakistan; a MUST step to counter all the challenges.


  • Umer
    Jun 8, 2013 - 5:57PM

    Hey, here is an idea. How about naming something public in his name even if it’s a very small back street somewhere?


  • Weirdity
    Jun 8, 2013 - 6:52PM

    A society like Pakistan’s does not deserve to have a person like Dr.Salam to call its own. Recommend

  • Karachittes
    Jun 8, 2013 - 7:14PM

    A great Muslim Nobel Laureate who has done so much for his country and Islam……..Pakistan and every citizen is proud to have a great personality like you…………..May Allah grant you highest place in Jannat Recommend

  • Jamil
    Jun 8, 2013 - 7:14PM

    Salam is not muslim.Recommend

  • Umer
    Jun 8, 2013 - 8:09PM


    Hey, here is an idea. How about naming something public in his name even if it’s a very small back street somewhere

    On second thought…its not going to happen.Recommend

  • abc
    Jun 8, 2013 - 10:02PM

    Dr Salam is recognized by whole world. It hardly makes any difference whether Pakistan honors him or not. Let us hope his grave remains safe in Pakistan and is suitably protected. Recommend

  • A Pakistani Ahmadi
    Jun 9, 2013 - 12:50AM

    @ Jamil

    kudus to you my friend. Kudus for just noting that “Salam is not muslim” out of the entire article. You didn’t note that that “non-muslim” is among the few things that should make anyone proud of their country. You didn’t pay any attnetion to the fact that there is hardly any scientific research coming out of our country because we are too busy researching what religion somebody practices and the fact that this illustrious son of Pakistan is all but forgotten in his own homeland because of his religion.

    I am sorry to say that your four words long comment points out everything that is wrong with Pakistan today. The fact that a person like Salaam has to prove his “islamic identity” before being honored as a Pakistani. So what you are saying in fact is that Salaam isn’t even a Pakistani.

    Shame on you and the bright spark who recommended your comment.


  • Jun 9, 2013 - 2:10AM

    Amazing man not just for his genious but more importantly for his urge to serve not himself, any country but for the whole world.


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