National heritage: The house that Dr Abdus Salam called home

Published: January 29, 2015
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Dr Abdus Salam. PHOTO: FILE

Dr Abdus Salam. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: Since 1981, a small 400-square foot house comprising two rooms in Mohalla Dawood Nagar in Jhang tehsil has been designated a ‘national monument’. This is the house where Pakistan’s first Nobel Laureate in Physics Dr Mohammad Abdus Salam was born in 1926.

Today marks what would have been Dr Salam’s 89th birthday. However, the house will remain quiet today as its former resident’s birth anniversary will pass by unnoticed by many in the country. “There have never been any commemorative ceremonies for Dr Salam at this house as long as I have lived here,” said one neighbour Nadeem. A signboard outside the house informs that it is a protected property under the Antiquities Act 1975.

Nadeem says the outer wall of the house fell in some time ago, and was repaired by neighbours before the Archaeology Department took the property into its custody and deputed a caretaker for the site. The keys to the house remain with another neighbour, Yasir, who opens the house for the occasional visitor. The caretaker reportedly visits once or twice a month.

“We do not have any plans for repairs or maintenance works for the house in the near future,” Archeology Department Deputy Director Maqsood Ahmed told The Express Tribune. He said the government has deputed two caretakers.

Dr Abdus Salam’s father was an official in the Department of Education in this farming district. According to the Nobel Prize committee, when Dr Salam “cycled home from Lahore, at the age of 14, after gaining the highest marks ever recorded for the Matriculation Examination at the University of Punjab, the whole town turned out to welcome him.”

Dr Salam won a scholarship to Government College, University of Punjab, and took his MA in 1946. He was then awarded a scholarship to St. John’s College, Cambridge University, where he excelled in mathematics and physics, awarded by Cambridge University in 1950 for the most outstanding pre-doctoral contribution to physics. He obtained a PhD in theoretical physics and his thesis, published in 1951, contained fundamental work in quantum electrodynamics which had already gained him an international reputation.

Dr Salam returned to Pakistan from England in 1951, to teach mathematics at Government College, Lahore. In 1952, he was appointed head of the Mathematics Department of Punjab University. He left Pakistan for Europe in protest against state-sanctioned discrimination and in 1979, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking research in theoretical physics. Subsequently, Dr Salam’s work was celebrated as an estimated 42 honorary doctorates were bestowed upon him by institutions across the world.

When Dr Salam travelled to Pakistan in December 1979, he was received in Lahore, Peshawar and Islamabad by the military secretaries to the governors and president at the time Ziaul Haq. When protestors from a politico-religious party threatened to disrupt a commemorative event at Islamabad’s Quaid-e-Azam University, the institution was compelled to shift the event to the National Assembly Hall. Similarly, protests disrupted an event at Punjab University, while Dr Salam’s alma mater Government College Lahore chose not to invite him to the institution.

Dr Salam passed away in 1996 and was buried in Rabwah, without a state funeral. The epitaph at his grave reads, ‘First Nobel Laureate’, as the word ‘Muslim’ has been deleted under court orders.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (39)

  • Mohammad
    Jan 29, 2015 - 9:50AM

    would you please publish some photographs of the house? When I was in 10th standard I studies only 2 paragraphs about Dr. Salam about his services to Physics.

    All Pakistanis are equal, regardless or gender, race, religion, ethnicity, color, financial status. This is my dream and this is what we should be.

    Dr. Salam makes many Pakistani proud – The world out there even doesn’t know Dr. Salam is Muslim or if he is Muslim, what kind of Muslim he is… they just thank him for his services to Physics.

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  • Saim
    Jan 29, 2015 - 9:51AM

    I would like to live to the day when Pakistan will stand proud of Dr. Salam.

    One of the greatest scientists ever !

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  • pakistani
    Jan 29, 2015 - 9:56AM

    One of the greatest tragedies of this nation (one of many, but definitely one of the greatest).

    This man should be celebrated across the country like we celebrate Iqbal and Jinnah. Iqbal might have been the ideological founder of this country, and Jinnah the leader, but Abdus Salam was the scientific founder! He brought so many Pakistanis into the world of science (and prominent positions to boot) back in his day.

    The day that we recognize someone like Abdus Salam is the day that I know that Pakistan is back on the right track.

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  • Pakistani
    Jan 29, 2015 - 10:05AM

    We should build a science and technology university named after Prof Salam.

    This man was a genius and a great Pakistani.

    Pakistan Zindabad.

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  • Mansoor Ahmed Zafar
    Jan 29, 2015 - 10:16AM

    bitter truth Dr. Abdus Salam “Man of Honor” rejected by the society & the Govt of Pakistan

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  • Mansoor Ahmed Zafar
    Jan 29, 2015 - 10:18AM

    Dr. Abdus Salam “Man of Honor” rejected by the society & the Govt of Pakistan

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  • Soofiya Malik
    Jan 29, 2015 - 10:32AM

    He was a brilliant scientist no doubt, but he made his mark as an individual abroad, not in the land of his birth – we must very carefully consider if he really should be hailed as a national hero worthy of emulation when we have the living example of the stature of Dr. Qadeer.

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  • Kumar Swamy
    Jan 29, 2015 - 10:40AM

    Story of Pakistan.

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  • Sohraab
    Jan 29, 2015 - 10:56AM

    @Soofiya Malik: Sorry to say but people like you are the main reason why Pakistan is in such bad shape. Every Pakistani deserves equal appreciation / Rewards for his or her efforts to put Pakistan on the map of Achievers. We have to rise above gender, Creed, Religion & Caste and think only PAKISTAN.

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  • Careless Whispers
    Jan 29, 2015 - 10:56AM

    I dont care about his sect, faith he was a Pakistani & a genius, I have a great deal of respect for Dr. Salam.we as a nation failed to give the due respect this genius deserves.RIP Sir

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  • John B
    Jan 29, 2015 - 10:57AM

    Other than being born in a place which later became pakistan and was forced to have a “Pakistan” passport for his travel, PAK as a nation has no claim on this eminent scientist.

    What the ET conveniently avoid mentioning here is this: Dr. Salam parents were Ahmadian- Muslims and so he became Ahmedian -Muslim by default, and was discriminated by the state and society.

    His desire to be buried in peace after death in PAK was also thwarted when his tombstone was desecrated by removing the word “Muslim” because the second Amendment to PaK constitution says he is NOT a Muslim. It was his Ahmedian belief that caused him to become an outcast in PAK.

    In short, every Pakistani citizen who acquires PAK passport is rejecting Dr. Salam since he /she has to affirm the discriminatory second Amendment to this sect of Islam.

    Now tell me, does PAK or PAK Muslims have eight to claim him as their own?
    Hypocrites!

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  • mujib abid
    Jan 29, 2015 - 11:17AM

    What’s wrong with us, as a Pakistani Nation. We always reject our best people; & appoint the most rejected & dejected people of Bhutto’s, Zardari’s, & Sharif’s stature.
    No doubt, that Dr. Abdus Salam is our national HERO!

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  • Soofiya Malik
    Jan 29, 2015 - 11:56AM

    @Sohraab:
    “@Soofiya Malik: Sorry to say but people like you are the main reason why Pakistan is in such bad shape. Every Pakistani deserves equal appreciation / Rewards for his or her efforts to put Pakistan on the map of Achievers. We have to rise above gender, Creed, Religion & Caste and think only PAKISTAN.”

    Really? I didn’t even mention any of those things in my post – its liberal fascists like you who are the bane of our society, but mercifully being made irrelevant by relagation to the fringe now.

    Yes, I have no love lost with Qadyanis but my point was something else which your indoctrination will never let you see.

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  • Hamid Rammah
    Jan 29, 2015 - 12:49PM

    @Soofiya Malik:
    have you studied or ever tried to see what he offered to his country He returned a doctorate in theoretical physics from Cambridge and offered to be a football head coach in government college Lahore with a laboratory to do his further research in so he left again. He offered to make a physics institute with his nobel prize money in Pakistan but due to misplaced religious bigots and zealots he had to shift that one to italy. Please get your facts straight before denouncing that he did it abroad and not in Pakistan. He offered everything to Pakistan and Pakistan rejected him. That is why he left and not because he wanted to.

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  • goggi (Lahore)
    Jan 29, 2015 - 12:49PM

    Dr. Mohammad Abdus Salam is the indisputable son of our Great Punjab. In his various interviews he speaks either in English or P U N J A B I!

    All rest is polemic and of marginal importance!

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  • Hamaad Haider
    Jan 29, 2015 - 12:51PM

    Shame on you and me for allowing discrimination against Ahmedis. You, nor I, nor a court of law is competent to determine who is, or is not, a Muslim. Just like you nor I will be answerable for each other’s deeds.

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  • Hamid Rammah
    Jan 29, 2015 - 1:04PM

    @Soofiya Malik:
    Miss Soofiya please get your facts straight. Dr. Abdul Salam returned to Pakistan for teaching after he got his doctorate from Cambridge in Government College Lahore his Alma Mater, But instead of being provided with a laboratory he was given the position of head coach of football team there. Secondly he offered to build a International institute of Theoratical Physics in Pakistan with his Nobel Price money but was chased out of Pakistan by “Thekedaran-e-Islam” (Pun fully intended). Pakistan lived in him. Please check out a picture of him accepting the nobel prize where he wore the traditional Shimlay wali Pagri with a Sherwani instead of wearing a highly formal suit which is the norm of nobel laurates. He might not live in Pakistan due to “Thekedaran-e-Islam” But Pakistan did live in him.

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  • Muhammad Sultan
    Jan 29, 2015 - 1:59PM

    Adding to @Hamid Rammah comments

    Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy in one of his interview told that after winning nobel prize, when he requested the head of the department of physics in Quaid-i-Azam university Islamabad that Dr. Abdus Salam is the most celebrated person of the region and We must have him in our campus, head of the department replied “I’ll break his legs if he’ll come”.

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  • KhalidS
    Jan 29, 2015 - 2:38PM

    @John B:
    Spot on john, I am really sorry to say, but the whole nation is a bunch of hypocrites. The whole country comes out burning tires when poor Palestinians die, but no one even blinks an eye when their next door neighbors are burnt alive, just cause they were of a different sect. Shame on them.

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  • Concerned Citizen
    Jan 29, 2015 - 3:14PM

    @Soofia Malik
    Your comparison between Dr. Abdus Salam and Qadeer Khan shows how much you know about science. Dr. Abdus Salam discovered something that was not know before a discovery that eventually led to Higgs Bosson partical. Dr Qadeer only made a nuke that has been made by several other countries and to add to that he is on a mechanical engineer.. dr Samar was the true brains behind. To add salt to your wounds I might add it was Dr Abdus Salam who convinced the govt to start nuclear program and played a key role before bigots started their hate campaign.

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  • Chachoo
    Jan 29, 2015 - 3:40PM

    @Soofiya Malik: I feel sorry for the people like you. When i see the comments like this then seriously i want to shun my Pakistani Passport. Do you know SUPARCO, Pakistan’s first atomic reactor, Pinstech establishment are all his efforts?. Still you are trying to disparage him. I know in the hindsight you have the Religious bias but you want to justify it with some stupid and illogical reasoning.

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  • An Ahmadi
    Jan 29, 2015 - 4:25PM

    Its always good to see these good comments in the news like this. It really matters to our marginalized community. But the main thing is that every Pakistani is partner in crime and gives his/her acceptance to this bigotry when he signs the Declaration of being Muslim under 2nd Amendment everytime he/she goes for passport, ID Card, Public Service jobs or any Government work.

    Voice is needed to be raised for this bigotry.Recommend

  • Nicolo
    Jan 29, 2015 - 4:28PM

    @Soofiya Malik:
    Please do some research..
    He was not given a chance in Pakistan due to his religious beliefs.

    He supported Pakistani scientist and scientists from the third world countries to attain research scholarships in Salam Institute of theoretical physics in Italy.

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  • Raja Nabeel
    Jan 29, 2015 - 5:14PM

    This is a national who buried his national hero like this. How we make progress, how?. This nation whose surrounding a narrow minded “Molvi Soch”. Pakistan is can survivor is only science education.

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  • M Azam
    Jan 29, 2015 - 6:23PM

    PleAse don’t compare Dr Salam with AQ Khan. He was a genius, noble laureate still very humble. On the contrary Mr Khan is a megalomaniac and without any character otherwise he would had stood up to Mr mush rather than pleading guilty on TV.

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  • Shahrukh
    Jan 29, 2015 - 8:01PM

    Yes, he was ostracised but in terms whether Pakistan can claim him to be Pakistani is a question of opinion. Einstein discovered most of his works in America yet stayed true to this German Roots. Equally so, if Abdul Salaam considers himself Pakistani, who are you to claim otherwise?

    On the question of being proud, yes a Pakistani achieved a brilliant recognition in terms of the Noble Prize. We, as Pakistanis, should be proud of him. But as only as a Pakistani, not a Muslim. There is a clear distinction.

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  • YA
    Jan 29, 2015 - 9:22PM

    ET should stop publishing articles about Dr. Salam….. This nation does not deserve him, his contribution is to humanity and cannot be undone. No reason to mention the countless efforts he made for this country. In retrospect it appears he would have been well advised to spend his time on things other than Pakistan, but as they say love is blind and unconditional….

    “We the present generation seem to have inherited a house which has no windows and its walls are very high and its very difficult to know whether we have inherited a house or a prison” – Abdus Salam

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  • KhalidS
    Jan 29, 2015 - 10:26PM

    I have posted a comment like 10 times. But tribune just won’t post it. Sad.

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  • Soofiya Malik
    Jan 29, 2015 - 11:17PM

    So this is how ET encourages debate – by smothering comments not suiting its agenda – Good going, guys – Pulitzer is in the bag!

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  • Soofiya Malik
    Jan 29, 2015 - 11:31PM

    @Chachoo:
    “@Soofiya Malik: I feel sorry for the people like you. When i see the comments like this then seriously i want to shun my Pakistani Passport.”

    Oh so you do have a passport – care to share what went through your mind while declaring Qadyanis non-muslims in order to acquire it.

    I don’t know whether to laugh at your brazen hypocracy or to feel sad for your post-facto espousal of some liberal sanctimony after conveniently not practicing what you preach when it clashes with your petty ends. I’m quite certain you don’t even see the irony.

    And I’m supposed to be bigot for telling it as it is!

    Pathetic, really.

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  • YA
    Jan 30, 2015 - 1:05AM

    @Soofiya Malik: As always the real point has been buried alive in this conversation….. The fact that you do not know what Salam has done for Pakistan requires exchange of information rather than ridicule…. at the same time it is unfortunate the basis you use to understand the relevance of Salam’s works for Pakistan some people may find this bigoted due to his religious affiliation. Also most people who have some idea of the significance of Salam’s scientific work would certainly find it annoying that you compare him to AQ… However you are free to judge and compare. And liberal fascists should find it in their hearts to accept your state of mind… That being said I beg you to consider the following:

    Salam played a very significant role in establishing the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) – the atomic research agency of Pakistan – and Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) – the space research agency of Pakistan, of which he was the founding director.

    Salam was also responsible for initiating research on water logging and salinity problems in Pakistan (The impact this has had on Pakistani Agriculture is enormous). He also played a critical role in agricultural research, PAEC and SUPARCO, the international space agency in Pakistan.

    Salam Played a keep role in trying to resolve difficult issues between India and Pakistan. Not to mention the numerous Pakistanis he sent for education to international universities….

    the list is too long to include in this comment but I hope the above will spike your curiosity to find out the true magnitude of his contribution to this country

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  • MB
    Jan 30, 2015 - 2:14AM

    @Soofiya Malik:
    I would encourage you to REALLY do some research and do not engage in petty arguments (no matter how tempting). A simple google search is enough to reveal what Dr. Abdus Salam did for the country who ultimately refused to accept him.

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  • Rana
    Jan 30, 2015 - 9:56AM

    For the sake of information, Dr. Abdus Salam was offered the nationality of UK but he rejected and preferred to stay Pakistani. He also received Noble prize in Pakistani national dress, offered his Nobel prize money to Pakistani government to establish a science university in Pakistan (which was refused by government) and at last is buried in Pakistani soil….all of this is enough to tell that he was a Pakistani son and was proud on that.

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  • Azmat Afroz
    Jan 30, 2015 - 2:40PM

    He was a pride of our nation
    But we don’t deserve such a great man

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  • minority
    Jan 30, 2015 - 3:23PM

    @Soofiya Malik:
    Soofiya, if I may just add that your position on what you say about Prof Salam is entirely based on a lack of knowledge of the facts. From the late 1950’s to his death in 1996, Prof Salam did so much for his beloved country. He offered the ICTP to Pakistan first and it was rejected: He helped design the irrigation system which provide water for Pakistans wonderful agricultural produce. He personally sponsored over 1000 children in Pakistan to further their education. He led the nuclear initiative as an alternative power source which Pakistan so desperately needed, not a nuclear weapon, but nuclear power. He had no interest in the destructive nuclear option. YA says it all. You are free to have your views but at least base your posts on facts.

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  • Hamid Rammah
    Jan 30, 2015 - 3:27PM

    To all the people praising Dr. Abdus Salam: I believe you are the real heroes of this nation who despite facing the ignorance of people and keeping in mind the religious differences still manage to speak out against ignorant people of my beloved country. I am so happy and proud to see that there still are people in this country who get up to defend the honor of this great man who without a doubt is probably one of the biggest scientific minds of the 20th century and probably the greatest scientist Pakistan has yet produced. I share my religious believes with Dr. Abdus Salam and I am proud to say that there are still people in this country who judge others on the basis of what a person does rather then what religious believes he/she holds.

    I am sincerely thankful on behalf of the Ahmadiya community, the Christian Community, The Hindu Community and any other religiously or otherwise minor community in Pakistan to the people who have shown their support here. Please one humble request keep on raising your voice on these issues and keep on judging people on their accomplishments and contributions than on the basis of creed, religion, sect or color. May Allah bless all of you and May Allah bless Pakistan. Dr. Abdus Salam Zindabad, Pakistan Zindabad.

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  • Hassaan mirza
    Jan 30, 2015 - 7:43PM

    @Soofiya Malik
    So we should not honor Abdul Salam? We should not teach our children about him? The work he did for several years as the science advisor to pakistan is the reason future scientists like Dr. Qadeer is among us.

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  • Free IoJ&K
    Jan 31, 2015 - 12:29AM

    @Soofiya Malik:

    Liked your fiery eloquent style, lady. Would prefer to see your penning prowess neutralizing the agitprop and countering the slanderous vitriol of the mighty cyber-army of ‘Hindutvavadis’, instead of knocking down benign Pakistani commentators with salvos of brickbats.

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  • Jan 31, 2015 - 9:20AM

    Inspirational comments. This is the day we have waiting and parying for! If our new generation has changed, we have changed. Our youth Insha Allah will set marks on time.
    No hatred,no discrimination of any type should be allowed on that beloved land, race,faith, colour are personal attributes-nations don’t thrive on them, discard them totally.

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