As the news about National Assembly passing resolution changing name of Dr Abdus Salam Centre at Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) Islamabad came in, I couldn’t help but think that religious intolerance in the country will end up taking us away from our heroes. It was later found out that the news was misinterpreted and the resolution aimed at renaming the Physics department of the university. But the intention of the lawmaker who introduced the resolution was clear: To remove Dr Abdus Salam’s name and replace it with that of a ‘Muslim scientist’. Just because Dr Abdus Salam, the first Nobel prize winner, was Ahmadi by faith, religious extremists and bigots do not miss a chance to undermine his achievements. This debate reminds me of countless other areas in Pakistan which are named after non-Muslim figures who gave a lot to the community regardless of their religious differences with us. My ancestral village, situated in a valley in Salt Range, is a rain-irrigated or ‘barani’ region and water is considered a precious resource there. Accessibility to clean drinking water is a hard-earned privilege and many a time it has to be brought from distant places. Quite a few Hindu families lived in the village before the partition of Indian subcontinent. One of the affluent Hindus, Mr Sham Das, took personal interest in water supply projects and got a well dug which is functional even after more than a century. This well was named ‘Shaam da Khu’ (Sham’s well) after Sham Das, and remains an integral part of everyday lives of the villagers even today. When you ask a villager where they live, they would reply, “the street next to Sham da khu”.Dr Abdus Salam’s achievements will continue to be acknowledged internationally. And any and all efforts to remove his name from history will prove to be futileThe highest peak in this valley is ‘Sakaisar’ named after Saki, the other name for Gautama Buddha. Most of the villages, mountains and topographic dimension in Pakistan have Sanskrit or Hindi names. The valley including my village is now home to a 100 per cent Muslim population. Sakaisar now serves as a base for Pakistan Air Force (PAF). The residents of the valley are practicing Muslims but moderate in their demeanor. Despite the wave of religious intolerance in Pakistan whereby it is being discussed that places named after non-Muslim historic figures should get new names, the residents of these villages are least concerned about the aspect of their history associated with Hindu or other non-Muslim figures. No one has ever bothered about their ‘religious identity and prestige’ being ‘damaged’ by the historic reality of the names they are emotionally associated with. The regions constituting Pakistan have a long history of being home to many civilizations and being a witness to diverse eras like those of the Gandhara , Indus valley, Aryans, Middle Eastern, Mughals and British. They have been a neighborhood to Sassanid and Confucius cultural values. They have hosted diverse religious identities from ancient Jainism to Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity. Thus, the cultural development has been influenced by all these historical experiences. This helped develop a tradition of pluralism and cultural diversity. We cannot alienate our history from our lives and our lives from our history. We have several monuments, sites, traditions and festivities representing diverse religious and ethnic symbols and personalities. To dissociate ourselves from what we are and what we have been would be a very unwise thing to do. Why should we change the names of historical sites like Harrapa, Shandoor, Texila, Katas Raj? Why do we have to even think of changing the names of hospitals where many of us were born and have been treated like Ganga Ram, Mayo, Janki Devi and Gulab Devi Hospitals? Why shouldn’t we continue to be proud alumni of institutions like Hailey College, Aitchison College, Sacred Heart, Convent of Jesus and Mary, Dayal Singh College, Lawrence College and many? Changing the names of Sakaisar or Sham da khu would disillusion the innocent locals of my valley in the name of the bigoted and hateful ideology which unfortunately seems to have been mainstreamed in Pakistan today. The Hindu-built well ‘Sham da Khu’, interestingly, is a water supply source for the nearby mosque. I hope no cleric comes up one day with a verdict that all ablution performed via a “Hindu” well is to be nullified. Mr Ram Das (late) continues to be respected as a “local” philanthropist decades after his family’s migration from the village. I wonder how we can make sense of abandoning Layallpur named after the dedicated administrator Lord Layall who actually developed the town, to Faisalabad after Shah Faisal who never stepped on the soil of Layallpur/Faisalabad.I wonder what stimulated the ‘ideology’ and mindset behind the decision to change the name of Dr Abdus Salam Centre for Physics. Dr Abdus Salam will remain a legendary Pakistani, acknowledged internationally for his academic excellence and someone who didn’t give up his Pakistani nationality till his last breath. And any and all attempts to remove his name from history would prove to be futile. Our flag would look so unfamiliar without the white part, this white so beautifully amalgamates with the green. The biggest crisis Muslims of Indian subcontinent faced was the one of identity. The creation of Pakistan was supposed to resolve the identity conflict for good. It’s sad how we are inventing new identity issues for many amongst us. Ethnic, linguistic, religious diversity is the beauty of our culture. Water, mountains, valleys, all other natural resources and education are to benefit humankind beyond all differences. I have always been a weak student of Physics, but I remember my lesson that the force of gravity works on each one of us, irrespective of our religious beliefs.Let’s be original. Let’s finally own our history with its diverse influences and impacts. Let’s own our indigenous heroes, because we don’t produce them anymore. The writer is an assistant professor of Political Science at Kinnaird College. Her email is email@example.comPublished in Daily Times, May 6th 2018.