Pakistan: Prof Abdus Salam Centre for Physics name change

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly passed a resolution on Thursday calling for the Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) physics department to be named after Abu al-Fath Abd-al Rehman Mansour-al-Khazini.

The resolution was signed by representatives of all major parties. It was read out by PML-N MNA retired Capt Mohammad Safdar, the son-in-law of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

There was some confusion surrounding the resolution after a television channel reported that it had called for renaming the Professor Abdus Salam Centre for Physics after Al-Khazini. However, the resolution did not name the Abdus Salam Centre for Physics, and was instead concerned with naming the university’s physics department.

“Technically speaking, the centre for physics and the department of physics are two separate entities. The centre is an autonomous body affiliated with QAU, while the department of physics is part of QAU,” senior university dean Dr Wiqar Ali Shah explained.

First called the National Centre for Physics, the centre was named after Pakistan’s first Nobel Laureate Professor Abdus Salam after approval from former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Mr Sharif had also approved a grant of five annual fellowships through the Higher Education Commission for Pakistani PhD candidates in the field of physics at international universities. The fellowship programme will be named the Professor Abdus Salam Fellowship.

Dr Shah said he had no knowledge of the National Assembly resolution in question.

The resolution stated that the physics department should be named after Al-Khazini to recognise his contribution to physics. It stated: “So that the everyone may know that this person was the pioneer in the world of science. While following the footsteps of his teacher Al-Biruni, he made remarkable achievements in the field of physics.”

Capt Safdar has repeatedly demanded that the Professor Abdus Salam Centre for Physics be renamed, but did not name the centre for physics in Thursday’s resolution.

Speaking to Dawn, QAU Vice Chancellor Dr Javed Ashraf claimed the university had nothing to do with the centre for physics.

“Although the centre is located on QAU premises, we have no direct role in this centre. As far as the physics department is concerned, we have a full-fledged department of physics which is part of the university,” he said.

Dr Ashraf, who is on the board of the centre of physics, said the then-prime minister had, a couple of years ago, directed that the centre be named after professor Abdus Salam.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2018

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