OF THE SEMINAR
of the heart”, a group of creative people, artists,
writers, journalists, scientists and other professionals, dedicated to
the cause of free thinking and dialogue, held a seminar entitled “Prof.
Abdus Salam's contributions to science and developing world”,
on Friday, September 10, at AMNI centre in downtown Toronto. A number of speakers
paid tributes to the genius of the Nobel Prize winning scientist with
particular emphasis on his vision for the future of his home country,
Pakistan in particular and the Muslims, in general.
Ziauddin Ahmed moderated the seminar. He started the
seminar with his opening remarks and presented the introduction and
programe for the evening. In his opening remarks, he stated that if
Pakistani Government and some people in that country discriminated
and ignored Abdul Salam, it was a clear evidence of the short
sightedness of the country in failing to benefit from the wisdom and
knowledge base associated with his work.
He still lives in the hearts and minds of many people within
Pakistan and beyond and has left behind a legacy in the form of
scientific institutions, mostly outside the country he loved so much.
Zakaria Virk from Kingston, Ontario spoke at length
highlighting Salam’s contributions in the field of science from the
third world’s perspective. He presented a review of a book, written
by Mr. Khalid Hassan, former press secretary of Mr. Bhutto. After the
review, he presented some quotes from the sayings of Salam and what
others said about him, at different times. The way a great son was
treated and remembered in his own country brought to light a very
serious issue with the attitude and general sense of understanding of
many people in his country of origin. He equated Salam with a great
literary figure, Saadat Hassan Manto. Both have never been officially
Practically nothing is named after them, but they continue to inspire
a lot of people with their work and they, each in his separate
domain, have become immortal, which is in fact a real honor.
Khalid Sohail reflected on many tragedies in Dr. Salam’s
life, but according to him, the biggest tragedy was that he loved
Pakistan that Pakistan never reciprocated. He also loved Muslims but
many orthodox Muslims hated him, simply because of his religious
beliefs. Dr. Sohail called Salam a patriotic Pakistani scientist who
was in love with Pakistan without completely realizing that
quote..”Pakistan is a country where religiosity and blind faith is
more powerful than scientific and rational thinking and politically,
where political and democratic institutions are subservient to the
military. He further went on to say that Salam was in
love with Muslims, not realizing that Muslims are
very sentimental people. They can have extreme attitudes of hate and
love for their heroes and although they claim that they practice the
religion of peace, their history is full of turbulence and violence,
from Toronto presented a very scientifically oriented narrative of
Salam’s work at different times in his life. Her detailed
description of Salam’s scientific achievements added a new
dimension to the seminar and added to the knowledge of students of
science and those who practice science as their career.
Participants became aware of the fact that Salam
spent every penny of the Nobel Prize money he received for the
betterment of Science in his home country, Pakistan and that the
“mysterious man from East” stood above all the praises.
Ansari, from Hamilton, Ontario gave a presentation on
Salam’s ideals. She spotlighted Salam’s thinking that he did not see
any conflict between religious and scientific beliefs and actually
equated a scientist with a mystic who explores and unlock the
mysteries of Nature. He firmly believed in
“man’s moral state” and considered every man as a piece
of the continent and a part of the main. She paid glowing tributes to
Questions from the audience
There were a number of questions asked by the
participants. One of the questions was of particular importance, as
it tended to spotlight on other side of Salam’s idiosyncracies. The
questioner was Najeeb
Kazmi, and the question was:
1) “Why is it that Dr. Abdus Salam never
approached the “International Court of Justice” in Hague to
appeal to ICJ, to persuade or direct the Supreme Court of Pakistan to
re-evaluate the earlier decision of declaring Ahmedis as
“non-Muslims”? It is worthwhile to note that Sir Zafarullah Khan
was head of the ICJ at that time and it was straightforward to file
an appeal with the Court to persuade the Government of Pakistan to
get the decision repealed after declaring it Malafide (beyond the
jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Pakistan), to declare any
individual as non-Muslim, as courts do not have a mandate to rule
upon a person’s belief.
Zakaria Virk replied that Mr. Salam may not have
considered it important, as it did not matter to him whether someone
called him a Muslim or otherwise, as it was a matter of his personal
At that point Najeeb
Kazmi stated that it was surprising how it did not matter
to him. If he was safe from the onslaught of the religious extremists
(while living abroad), it did not mean that rest of the Ahmedis (with
lesser or no means and who were still living in Pakistan) were safe.
It is a fact that from that time onwards, Ahmedis were and are being
singled out, targeted, discriminated or even killed in many cities of
Punjab in particular and other provinces in general.
Mr. Virk did not have any further explanation, but
he promised to find out what the reason could possibly be.
2) Another question, which was more of a
disagreement, was put forward by Subuhi
Ansari. She expressed her reservation and disagreement
over the hasty generalization of Dr.
Sohail, when he said, “Muslims are very sentimental
people. They can have extreme attitudes of hate and love for their
heroes and although they claim that they practice the religion of
peace, their history is full of turbulence and violence, through
Subuhi called it a generalization of facts and said
that we can not generalize this opinion about Muslims, as this is not
true about Muslims only and many societies and religions, in the past
and even now have been very brutal and are still practicing
brutalities. Even a super power like US is included in the list of
those countries which are extremely dictatorial in their attitude
when it their economic interests are threatened or are in jeopardy,
in any region of the world.
Amra Ahmed also had a similar reservation about Dr.
The seminar was concluded by the moderator, Mr.
Ziauddin Ahmed with a word of thanks for all participants.
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