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Opinion Aatish Taseer: Muslim Father, Sikh Mother, Family, Culture And Identity


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
From Amandeep Singh via Gyani Jarnail Singh "Arshi" ANZ Sikhs

Aatish Taseer is the son of Pakistan Governor Salman Taseer, who was assasinated yesterday, and journalist Tavleen Singh, who became famous for interviewing Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in 1980's for India Today. Aatish was raised by his Nanaji Sardar Basakha Singh Waraich (I could be wrong with name) who was one of the first builders of Delhi.

Salman Taseer had left Tavleen Singh as Pakistan Punjabis do normally to marry their first cousins. As marriage is arranged with their cousins (preferably Bhua's daughter) at a very young age. Many a Sikh girls have been bitten by the fact in UK. They need to realise that Pakistan Punjabis are duty bound to marry their first cousins especially Bhua'a daughter.

A Son's Journey: Aatish Taseer

NEW DELHI: Unusual is his second name. Aatish Taseer , author and son of Pakistani politician Salman Taseer who was killed on Tuesday by his own personal guard, sees himself as a “cultural Muslim”. It is a strange expression that, to an extent, explains his usual Indo-Pakistani family history and his efforts to distance the gap that had arisen between him and his father.

Born in London in 1980 to Taseer, the slain governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, and renowned Indian journalist Tavleen Singh , a Sikh by faith, Aatish always wanted to discover the faith of his father, Islam. In fact, he went on to write a book with a strong tone of the “unusual” about it, Strangers to History: A Son’s Journey Through Islamic Lands. It was based on a journey he took some two decades after he was born, chasing an obsession: his absent father. As a kid, all he ever had of his father was a photograph. He grew up in Delhi with his mother before he was sent to a residential school in Kodaikanal.

Brought up in a Sikh family in Delhi, where his cousins wore turbans while he was made to feel specially unusual without them, Taseer Jr was destined to make that eight-month tour — to Iran, Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia and finally to Pakistan, where he met his father.

He had said in an interview: “I wanted only to understand the distances that had arisen between my father and me. The reason I wanted to do this was because I felt instinctively that there was something deeper behind those distances, something that would help illuminate a situation wider than my own personal context.” The purpose of his trip was also to parley on equal terms with his father by gaining knowledge of how a person who doesn’t practice the religion can still call himself a Muslim.

After meeting his father, he said in an interview that he “overcame the estrangement” with his father, a secular Muslim in Islamic Pakistan, who died in the same way India’s former Prime minister Indira Gandhi died: at the hands of his body guard . But the estrangement with Pakistan, the country of his father’s birth and political activity, endured.

In Strangers to History, he has written about how history was being distorted by religious leaders in order to justify the notion that Muslims are persecuted. “It is comforting for them,” he had been quoted as saying. He had said that he felt Wahhabism represents a tendency within Islam — and perhaps also in other forms of organised thought — to close its doors, and retreat within itself, when it is faced with a political or intellectual threat too great to confront. The book presented a pessimistic picture of the state Islam is currently in. He also described his father’s expression of “moderate Muslim” as being “too little moderation and in the wrong areas”.

Now, 30, Aatish, has been highly vocal about losing faith in Pakistan, where his loyal-to-the-country-unto-the-last father died a bloody death on Tuesday, in one of the most high-profile assassinations after former Pakistan prime minister Benazir’s Bhutto’s death in 2007. Nine bullets were fired at him; three in the chest, four in the neck and two in the stomach.

For the son, who had a brief “royal” affair with Lady Gabriella Windsor, daughter of Prince of Kent, it is the same thing: familiarity of the unusual.



Taseer’s son Writes Shocking Memoirs about His Father
March 13, 2009 . 19 Comments
in News

ISLAMABAD: Aatish Taseer, the 29-year old son of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, who is a journalist and lives in London, has written a book, a personal memoir, about his life story in which he has depicted his father in a manner that will shock and repel many of his Pakistani readers.

The book, titled “Stranger to History: A Son’s Journey through Islamic Lands”, is about to be launched in London in a week and in India a few weeks later. Indian magazine “Outlook” has acquired the rights to the book and as a gesture of friendly cooperation, the magazine has agreed to share their breaking story about the book with The News. The magazine will hit the stands in India on Friday.

Aatish has also been interviewed by the Outlook magazine, which says the book is ready to roll and Aatish is on the brink of entering a heady world of book launches and international book tours. It has been published by the Picador India.

According to the Outlook, the book is a fictional version of Aatish’s dramatic life story. Briefly, the story is this: “A short, intense relationship between a Pakistani politician, Salmaan Taseer, and an Indian journalist, Tavleen Singh, produces a child. As the relationship founders, the father (according to his son’s account) abandons the mother and the infant in London.

They move to Delhi, where the boy, Aatish, grows up in an elite Sikh family, but with an awareness of being ‘different’ because of his Muslim and Pakistani ancestry. “Twice in his childhood, he makes long-distance overtures to his father, but is rebuffed. In 2002, at the age of 21, he tries again, by simply landing up in Lahore, and meets with greater success. Salmaan’s political career has waned — the military rules; his party’s boss, Benazir Bhutto, is in exile — but he is, by now, a wealthy businessman and a media tycoon, with an elegant third wife and six other children.

“Relatives and family friends, who have known about Aatish for years, help him find a way into Salmaan’s life. So begins a father-son relationship that is, by no means, easy. And so dies a novel.

“There is this extraordinary story, but what does it mean? It’s not everybody else’s,î Aatish said, while looking back on his struggles five years ago to write that autobiographical novel.“Then came a turning point. In 2005, Aatish, now a journalist living in London, wrote for a UK magazine on the radicalisation of the British second-generation Pakistanis, making the unexceptionable liberal argument that it was linked to failures of identity on different fronts. Chuffed by his first cover story, he sent it to his father, to whom he now felt closer — and was shocked to receive a furious reply, accusing him, among other things, of blackening the family name by spreading ‘invidious anti-Muslim propaganda’.

“The accusations set off a storm of reactions in Aatish, from hurt and defensiveness to confusion and curiosity. How was his father, who (as he was to recount in his book) drank Scotch every evening, never fasted and prayed, even ate pork and once said: ‘It was only when I was in jail and all they gave me to read was the Quran…..(This portion of the text has been deleted as it was deemed unprintable.)

Defending his controversial decision to lay bare personal relationships and conversations, Aatish said it came from his conviction, after the letter incident, that “the personal circumstances contained a bigger story.” He, however, acknowledged that the writing of the book was also a way to overcome the despair he felt at having his relationship with his father suddenly run aground again — “a way to make my peace with that personal history.”

The memoir is a journalist’s engaging travelogue. But where the political and personal come together powerfully is in the last third part of the book, which finds Aatish in Pakistan among the Pakistanis.



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Aug 17, 2010
World citizen!
Fascinating story!! It's interesting that he was brought up as a muslim by his sikh family. I wonder how and why? It seems very contradictory considering his father didn't take much interest in his upbringing :dunno:


Apr 3, 2005
When the rumour of Aatish marrying english princess was allover the place then it was mentioned that Aatish is Sikh.I don't think Aatish was raised as muslim ,but he was not raised as Sikh. either.Anyway if he was raised as muslim it is no surprise as in Indian patriarchal culture women Raise their children with husband's faith veen if they are divorced.We have another case of Varun Gandhi who is son of maneka and Sanjay Gandhi.Sanjay Gandhi was not even a full hindu and died when Varun was 2.Despite being all insults maneka did not raise Varun as sikh and he is now a mouthpiece of RSS.



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