Islamabad: Two young Pakistanis are battling
all odds to make the first-ever documentary on the country`s
only Nobel laureate Abdus Salam though the going has not been
easy so far because he was an Ahmedi.
Ahmedis, who are in minority in Pakistan, are not
considered to be Muslims.
Omar Vandal and Zakir Thaver chose to document Salam`s
life because "he overcame humble beginnings, a modest
formative education and religious intolerance to become one of
the leading physicists of the 20th century".
Thaver, who was working for a production company in
New York, came up with the idea three years ago but producers
were not interested in making a film on a dead scientist from
Pakistan at that time.
Later, he set up Kailoola Productions with his colleague
Vandal in New York to bring science to the developing world
and bridge the knowledge divide via TV.
Vandal and Thaver did not contact any government
institutions for the project because Salam was an Ahmedi and
they did not think the authorities would have supported them.
"The word Muslim has been whitened out from Salam`s
epitaph, so why would the government bother funding our
project? For officialdom, Salam is too much of a political
risk to celebrate," Thaver said in an interview posted on the
Muslim countries contacted by the duo for funds too
have remained silent because of the Ahmedi issue.
Incidentally, the Ahmedi Jamaat ? an influential
organisation of the sect ? was concerned about the film being
misconstrued as Ahmedi propaganda so it too backed off the
"But lately there`s been a resurgence of interest
from some well-to-do individual Ahmadis as they realise that
it`s not propaganda ? our script is quite clear that it`s a
film on an eminent scientist of Pakistan," Thaver said.
Vandal and Thaver, who started filming early this
year, are still short of USD 500,000.
Raza Rumi, editor of a well-known e-zine, has
endorsed the project.
Rumi put an end to arguments by saying that "physics
has nothing to do with sectarian warfare".
However, some Pakistanis could not put Salam`s Ahmadi
status out of the way.
"Ahmadi lobby is very rich...They can easily arrange
it for their religious fellows. Don`t worry," wrote called
Kashifiat, a blogger.
An amendment to the Pakistani constitution adopted in
September 1974, during the rule of late President Zulfiqar Ali
Bhutto, judged all Ahmadis as "not Muslims for the purposes of
constitution and law".
Salam received his Nobel Prize at 53 for unifying two
of the four fundamental forces of nature, a groundbreaking
achievement that fulfilled Einstein`s dream of unity.
Born in rural Pakistan, Salam is ranked as one of the
most influential physicists of the 20th century.