QAU students, teachers protest NA resolution omitting Dr Abdus Slam name from Centre for Physics

Civil society vows to hold countrywide protest if Dr Salam’s name disrespected

Zubair Qureshi

A large number of students of the Department of Physics, Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU), former professors of Physics department and members of civil society on Friday staged a protest demonstration against a resolution passed by the National Assembly a day earlier for renaming of Dr Abdus Salam Centre for Physics as al-Khazini Department, a little known Byzantine-origin astronomer who according to many historians lived and researched in late 14th century.
His contributions, too, in contrast with Pakistan’s proud son Dr Abdus Salam are little known and according to the students and faculty members the QAU, the government should have set up a separate centre if it wanted to acknowledge the services of Abu al-Fath Abd al-Rahman Mansur al-Khazini instead of slashing the name of one whose role in developing Pakistan’s science and nuclear programme is simply incredible. Dr Abdus Salam, they said, developed Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), founded SUPARCO, helped Pakistan get its first Atomic Research Reactor, established Pakistan Institute for Nuclear Science & Technology, started Theoretical Physics Group which made the theoretical design of Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapon so on and so forth.
It is because of the strong foundations laid down by Dr Abdus Salam that enabled Nawaz Sharif order a nuclear test fire in 1998. However, the fact that Dr Abdus Salam belonged to Ahmadi faith infuriated Tehrik-e-Labaik and its hot-headed cleric chief Khadim Rizvi who according to the protesters brought the government to its feet thus changing the name of the centre.
Addressing the protesters, Pakistan’s renowned scientist and Human Rights activist and former professor of Physics at QAU, Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy said the resolution passed by the National Assembly was shameful and based on bias and was moved simply out of fear of a religious extremist who keeps spreading hate speech against Ahmadis and whose knowledge of science and scientific achievements of Dr Abdus Salam is pathetic.
But the government, he said, knows very well the services of Dr Abdus Salam and it should have refrained from any such move. It is again a pity that no one else but the son-in-law of the former PM Nawaz Sharif who had approved naming of the Centre as Dr Abdus Salam Centre in 2016 moved the resolution, said Dr Hoodbhoy. He asked the government where it was going to take the society to by such uncalled for, irresponsible move. “If we don’t respect our heroes, the world will shun us,” said Hoodbhoy.
Another former Chairman of Physics Department of QAU, Dr Khurshid Hasnain said Dr Salam was a legend and his work is internationally acknowledged. It will be a tragedy if a centre named after him is renamed out of fear of fanatics, said Dr Khurshid. Former Professor of Physics Hassan Akhtar Rizvi feared the government had initiated a plan to dismantle Abdus Salam chairs from the universities and intends to remove his names from all the honor lists. Dr Salam was our hero and a source of inspiration for many students and faculty members. The government’s decision shows its weakness against the forces of obscurantism and should be withdrawn forthwith, said Hassan Akhtar Rizvi.
A student of Physics Department Shehryar Khan too, regretted the decision and vowed that the students of the QAU would continue to protest unless the government withdrew its decision.

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