The National Assembly on Thursday passed a resolution to change the name of the National Centre for Physics at the Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) from the Professor Abdus Salam Centre for Physics to al-Khazini Department, after Byzantine-origin astronomer Abu al-Fath Abd al-Rahman Mansur al-Khazini.
The resolution was tabled by PML-N lawmaker Captain Muhammad Safdar, who is former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law and aspiring PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz’s husband.
Nuclear physicist Abdus Salam hailed from the Ahmadi community, whose members constitute a minority in Pakistan. Its members have faced persecution and were declared non-Muslims through a constitutional amendment in 1974.
Last year, during an anti-Ahmadi tirade on the floor of the National Assembly, Safdar had criticised the renaming of the QAU physics centre after Professor Dr Abdus Salam — the country’s first Nobel laureate — on the grounds that the scientist followed the Ahmadi faith.
The physics centre had been named after Abdus Salam in December 2016 following the approval of then prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who had also approved a grant for five annual fellowships for Pakistani PhD students.
The fellowship programme was called the Professor Abdus Salam Fellowship. It is unclear whether its renaming is also on the PML-N’s agenda.