Aatish Taseer

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Aatish Taseer
Born (1980-11-27) 27 November 1980 (age 38)
London, England
Alma materAmherst College (B.A., 2001)
OccupationWriter, journalist
Ryan Davis (m. 2016)
Parent(s)Salmaan Taseer
Tavleen Singh

Aatish Taseer (born 27 November 1980) is a British-born writer and journalist. He is the son of Indian journalist Tavleen Singh and Pakistani politician and businessman Salmaan Taseer.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born in London to Salmaan Taseer and Tavleen Singh, Taseer grew up in New Delhi, before attending Kodaikanal International School, a residential school in Kodaikanal.[1] He later studied at Amherst College[2] in Massachusetts, earning dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in French and Political Science in 2001.[3]


Taseer has worked for Time magazine,[4] and as a freelance journalist also written for Prospect magazine,[5] The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph, Financial Times, TAR magazine and Esquire.[6] Taseer's opinion pieces have garnered both attention and critical appreciation. David Goodhart drew attention to Taseer's piece on feudal Pakistan, Travels with the mango king[7] in his article "Prospect's 10 Most Influential Articles".[8] In 2010, he wrote a piece on the controversy surrounding the possible construction of the "Ground Zero Mosque" in Manhattan, Tolerance test for New York.[9]

Since his father's assassination on 6 January 2011 Taseer has written, about the situation in Pakistan leading up to and following the incident. These pieces attempt to go far beyond the immediate events surrounding his father's murder, A piece for the The Daily Telegraph[10] published just two days after, extends his view from the incident, providing a broader understanding of what it all means for Pakistan.

On 5 May 2011, a few days after the death of Osama Bin Laden, Taseer wrote a piece for the Financial Times titled "Pakistan’s Rogue Army Runs a Shattered State".[11] It was one of the first pieces of journalism to point to the significance of the fact that Osama bin Laden had been killed in a Pakistani cantonment town, Abbottabad. In the article, Taseer states simply that "he was found in this garrison town because he was the guest of the army." He goes on to unpack the importance of this, saying that the coming-to-light of this fact "represents the moment when perception and reality become one. And what a frightening reality it is: a vast and nuclear-armed military exposed for not just being the enemy of peace in south Asia but probably the ultimate sponsor and protector of terrorism against the west."

On 16 July 2011 The Wall Street Journal published a piece its editors provocatively, and somewhat misleadingly, titled "Why My Father Hated India".[12] Although Taseer wrote using his father's distaste for all things Indian as an example, or metaphor, the article attempted to explain a much bigger question - a question about Pakistan's apparent unhealthy obsession with India and vice versa. It argued that "to understand the Pakistani obsession with India, to get a sense of its special edge — its hysteria — it is necessary to understand the rejection of India, its culture and past, that lies at the heart of the idea of Pakistan", he went on to say that "In the absence of a true national identity, Pakistan defined itself by its opposition to India." As could be expected, the article ignited a firestorm that consumed internet chat-rooms and set Twitter ablaze. The article remained the most emailed and commented-on on the WSJ website[13] for days and at the end of July it was by far the most emailed of the month.

The controversy spread when, following an exchange on Twitter between Pakistani journalist, Ejaz Haider and Indian Member of Parliament and former Indian Union Minister and Under-secretary at the UN, Shashi Tharoor. Haider wrote a column in The Express Tribune titled "Aatish’s Personal Fire", Ejaz stated that Taseer himself seemed to suffer from an identity crisis[14] accusing Taseer of employing "everything except the kitchen sink in order to construct a supposedly linear reality". His central argument was that India - with its massive army arrayed along its border with Pakistan - left Pakistan with no choice but to be deeply concerned with its every move. Tharoor rose to Aatish Taseer's defense; writing in the Deccan Chronicle, in a piece titled "Delusional liberals",[15] he quoted Taseer's original piece extensively and said in general he "admired the young man’s writing", and felt he had made "his point in language that was both sharp [...] heartfelt and accurate". He said that in their vitriolic response to Taseer's piece Pakistan's liberals had exposed themselves and took on Haider point-for-point, saying "that there is not and cannot be an "Indian threat" to Pakistan, simply because there is absolutely nothing Pakistan possesses that India wants." Ejaz Haider subsequently responded strongly stating "Like every other state in the world, Pakistan is also a self-interested state and the rest of the world must live with this fact; three, we have no intention of defenestrating our military, even as we would continue to kick them to extract obedience; four, we don’t need advice from across the border, especially because the Indian pundits crawled on their bellies when Mrs Indira Gandhi slapped her two-year emergency rule. We have seen worse without giving up or giving in. Thank you!"[16] but the controversy flamed-out after this last salvo.

Personal life[edit]

Taseer divides his time between New Delhi and London. In 2016, he got married to Ryan Davis. Previously, he was in a relationship with Lady Gabriella Windsor, daughter of the Prince and Princess Michael of Kent,[17][18] whom he had met when she was an undergraduate at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and he at Amherst College in Massachusetts.[2]


His first book Stranger to History: A Son's Journey Through Islamic Lands (2009), Taseer's part memoir-part travelogue, has been translated into more than 14 languages and hailed as a "must-read" for anyone attempting to understand the Muslim world.[19][20] Taseer's well received translation of Saadat Hasan Manto's short stories from the original Urdu, Manto: Selected Stories, was published in 2008.[21]

  • Manto Selected Stories. Random House. ISBN 81-8400-049-9.
  • Stranger to History: A Son's Journey Through Islamic Lands, McClelland & Stewart. 2009. ISBN 0-7710-8425-0.
  • Translated from the English: Terra Islamica. Auf der Suche nach der Welt meines Vaters, translated by Rita Seuß, Verlag C.H. Beck, München 2009
  • The Temple-Goers, Viking. 2010. ISBN 978-0-670-91850-8.
  • Noon, Faber & Faber in the US; by Picador in India and the UK. 2011. ISBN 978-0-86547-858-9.
  • The Way Things Were, Pan Macmillan in UK and India 2014, ISBN 9789382616337.
  • The Twice-Born: Life and Death on the Ganges (2019)



  1. ^ a b Lunch with BS: Aatish Taseer: Passage through Islam Kishore Singh/ New Delhi, Business Standard, 14 April 2009.
  2. ^ a b Taseer, Aatish (1 July 2016). "The Day I Got My Green Card". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Archived from the original on 12 July 2016. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  3. ^ Dinesh, Chethana (25 November 2018). "Quick Take: Aatish Taseer". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  4. ^ "Say 'Cheese'!" by Aatish Taseer Sunday, Time, 11 January 2004.
  5. ^ Aatish Taseer article Prospect, July 2005.
  6. ^ "Aatish Taseer". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  7. ^ "Travels with the mango king". Prospect. 26 April 2009. Archived from the original on 1 October 2009. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  8. ^ David Goodhart (23 November 2010). "Prospect's 10 most influential articles". Prospect. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  9. ^ "Tolerance test for New York". Prospect. 20 October 2010. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  10. ^ Taseer, Aatish (8 January 2011). "The killer of my father, Salman Taseer, was showered with rose petals by fanatics. How could they do this?". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  11. ^ "Pakistan's rogue army runs a shattered state". Financial Times. 5 May 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  12. ^ Taseer, Aatish (16 July 2011). "Why My Father Hated India". The Wall Street Journal.
  13. ^ "Wall Street Journal home page (search required)". The Wall Street Journal.
  14. ^ Haider, Ejaz (18 July 2011). Aatish’s personal fire. The Express Tribune. Retrieved 18 August 2013
  15. ^ Deccan Chronicle Archived 16 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Haider, Ejaz (16 July 2011). It’s not just Mr Tharoor!. The Express Tribune. Retrieved 18 August 2013
  17. ^ Uk News The Times, 8 December 2004.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ Aatish Taseer, Lady Windsor part ways: Report DNA India - 29 October 2006
  19. ^ Book Review The guardian, Saturday, 14 March 2009.
  20. ^ Book Review The Independent, Friday, 17 April 2009.
  21. ^ Kumar, Divya (31 March 2010). "A question of identity". The Hindu. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  22. ^ Costa Book Awards Archived 3 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Brown, Mark (16 November 2010). "Costa prize shortlist falls short on biographies". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  24. ^ Akbar, Arifa (17 November 2010). "Costa judge laments a weak year for fiction". The Independent. London. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  25. ^ "Two books on India in UK literary award shortlist". The Times of India. 18 November 2010. Retrieved 28 September 2011.

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