The 20th death anniversary of Pakistan’s first Nobel prize winner Dr Abdus Salam – on November 21 – passed once more without any significant mention in the media or recognition by the state. Only his alma matter, Government College University (GCU) in Lahore, held a small event commemorating Pakistan’s greatest scientific mind. In breaking with tradition however, there has been a belated but much appreciated effort from the government to right this glaring oversight.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday ordered the renaming of Quaid-i-Azam University’s (QAU) physics centre to the Professor Abdus Salam Centre for Physics, and the proposal now waits the formal approval of President Mamnoon Hussain. The Prime Minister also approved a grant for five annual fellowships for Pakistani PhD students in the field of Physics in reputable international universities. The programme will be named the Professor Abdus Salam Fellowship.

The Prime Minister risks the ire of religious hardliners, and for him to go ahead despite that threat merits commendation. This may be a small and in many ways a cosmetic change to the systematic neglect shown towards a national hero, but coming from the highest public office, the gesture shows the esteem with which this government regards the man.

That being said, if the Prime Minister and his government truly believe in reversing this wrong, then honouring him in educational institutes isn’t enough. The reason for his departure from Pakistan, and his subsequent removal from many Pakistani public textbooks is the fact that he belonged to the minority Ahmadiyya sect. This is why his grave only reads “First Nobel Laureate” – the word “Muslim” has been stricken off by a court order.

That community is still a major target for hate speech and discrimination. Its members are often targeted by blasphemy allegations and their businesses attacked. The Prime Minister’s actions are praised only in context of this discrimination, and as such the government must do more to address the root cause of the problem. Public recognition of Dr Abdus Salam is the first – and the easiest – step.