Aatish Taseer, journalist and writer wrote an article titled "I am Indian. Why Is the Government Sending Me Into Exile?" in Time magazine dated November 8, 2019 that explicitly charged the Prime Minister of India with malice towards him. Aatish Taseer is the son of Salman Taseer a Pakistani politician and a former Governor of the Province of Punjab in Pakistan who was assassinated in 2011.
The article in Time magazine by Aatish Taseer was about himself, giving his own version of facts and law in support of his own cause -- a patently self serving exercise. There was nothing wrong in Aatish Taseer writing for his own cause and the Time, which published it, willing to publish it, if only it had followed the fundamental rules of facts check as Taseer had made serious allegations against the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi. By suppressing vital facts about himself that would disable from writing the article itself, Aatish Taseer enabled himself to charge the Prime Minister of India with malice towards him. If the article had appeared in any yellow press, Taseer’s deceitful suppression of truth and the false charges he had made could have been ignored. But as it had appeared the Time magazine, which claimed high credibility and neutrality, too many of its readers would have been misled into believing the false content of Aatish Taseer’s piece against the Prime Minister of India. As a citizen of India and as a journalist of decades of standing, I therefore felt compelled to responded to the Time magazine rebutting Aatish Taseer’s falsehood which tended to defame not just the Prime Minister, but, by implication, the Indian nation itself and the people of India. But the Time magazine did not even care to respond to my rebuttal of Taseer’s piece. The unbecoming behaviour of the Time has led to avoidable comment on its claims to professional integrity as well.
Aatish Taseer's self serving article
The way the Time disregarded my response indicated that its neutrality is obviously subject to exceptions like, in this case, the former colonies of Imperial powers that, it seems to believe, still needs to be more civilised to deserve its neutral treatment. No magazine which calls itself unbiased would first publish a self serving article by a writer who writes in his own cause and, in the process, against the head of the largest democracy in the world. And more, no reputed magazine would allow such publication without checking the facts asserted by Taseer with the government of India that stands indicated or from other reliable sources. And if a writer in his own cause charges the head of a state with malice as Aatish Taseer had done, the rule to check the facts will apply with greater force as publishing such article would necessarily offend the sentiments of the people of the country who the head of the state targeted represents. Yet, the Time magazine published Taseer's article patently in support of his own case blindly and without thinking of its fundamental duty to check the facts, despite the alerting fact that the article offended the Prime Minister of India and Indian nation itself. The Indian Prime Minister is no individual. He represents the largest democracy and home to one-sixth of humanity. He had led his party to win an absolute majority in the last two successive elections -- a feat which was not accomplished by any Prime Minister in India after Jawaharlal Nehru in the last six decades. Still, shockingly, the Time magazine irresponsibly published a piece which not even a local newspaper or magazine in India would have done, without checking the basic facts, particularly against a foreign head of state.
Half Truth, Full lie
Now the facts. Aatish Taseer claims he is an Indian. It is a half truth but a full lie. It is half truth because his mother is an Indian, also a respected journalist. She has been for long also a supporter of the policies Prime Minister of India. Save this half truth, Aatish Taseer totally lies on the critical aspects of citizenship law which is not just India’s public law which cannot be deviated from for showing compassion for one person, but international public law which all nations have to respect mutually. In his article Taseer had concealed the most vital fact that his father who held a British passport also held a Pakistan passport and finally gave up the British passport and opted for Pakistan passport to contest elections. That fact is vital because he could claim his claim to rights for Overseas Citizen of Indian [OCI] Status in Indian law only if neither of his parents or grandparents were a Pakistan citizen. Given the well known secret that India is a covert target of Pakistan based terrorists, the provision to exclude the offspring of Pakistan from the privileged OCI status is a national security safeguard writ into law, no small technical issue. Any leniency to Taseer would open the floodgate that would irretrievably harm India’s security interests. In his article, Taseer had suppressed both the legal provision and the related critical facts and falsely claimed that he was entitled to the privilege of OCI status, which he was not, as, undeniably, his father was a Pakistan citizen. Aatish Taseer had wilfully and intentionally suppressed the disqualifying fact from the officials and got them to grant his OCI status. When the officials of the government of India came to know the true facts, they issued show cause notice to him why his OCI status could not be cancelled.
The silent Time
When I saw that the Time had defamed India by publishing the lies of Aatish Taseer on the Indian Prime Minister without checking the facts, I actually saw through its hidden urge to slander the Indian Prime Minister. Yet I sent my response to the Lucas Wittman Senior Editor Time Magazine on November 9, 2019 referring to the inaccuracies in the Aatish Taseer piece and seeking to have my response published. The Time did not respond. I again sent a mail to the Time on November 15 recalling my earlier mail of November 9 with my article in response to Taseer's. I wrote that it was already six days since I sent my mail to the Time and I haven't had any reply. I wanted to know whether the Time was at all inclined to carry my response, adding that that would enable me to reach the facts concealed by Aatish Taseer to the public by other means. There was no response. It is now three weeks since I sent my last mail. The Time is still silent.
Arrogant at worst, petty at best
Left with no alternative, I am carrying the piece as my blog in my site. I will try and reach it to as many people as possible through social media. This is the best I can do when a large magazine like the Time does not even respond to my rebuttal of Taseer’s article when it is its moral and ethical duty to carry my response. In hindsight it does not appear that Taseer has misled the Time into carrying his self serving piece. The very fact that the Time has refused even to acknowledge my article that exposes Taseer’s lies indicates that the Time is ideologically inclined against the Indian Prime Minister. And by implication it is in collusion with Taseer to conceal the critical facts that would show he was disqualified for the privilege of OCI status under the Indian nationality law which, he claimed in his article, the Indian government led by Modi had denied him illegally. If the conduct of the Time magazine in publishing Taseer’s article without facts-check is unethical and immoral, its refusal to carry my rebuttal equally exposes that the Time is arrogant at worst and petty at best.
This is the article I had sent to the Time magazine on November 9, 2019, which they have not carried till today, which means that they will not carry it at all.
Op Eds can’t help overcome citizenship frauds - By S Gurumurthy
A victim in the cause of free speech and expression is so regarded by others. But some seek to declare themselves as not as just victims but as martyrs. There is a world of difference between the two. The first one is roll of honour. The second is self-delusion. Aatish Salman Taseer falls in the second category.
Now, my memory goes back to the midnight of March 13, 1987 when I was shaken out of the bed and arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation in India as ordered by Rajiv Gandhi, the Indian Prime Minister then, for exposing a deep and fraudulent corporate-government nexus. The ground for the action, that included raids on the Indian Express newspaper, was a letter which was later found forged. The action nevertheless aborted midway, as intended, what the senior Australian journalist Hamish McDonald wrote, “'must rank among the most powerful examples of investigative journalism anywhere in the world”. The entire Indian media trashed govt action as outrageous attack on the freedom of Indian Express. The Statesman paper even demanded that government apologised to the Indian Express. The intolerant government remained unrepentant. The Indian Express which had till then never written a word against Rajiv Gandhi probed him and exposed his complicity in diverse corrupt deals, the Bofors scam being the chief among them. That was where the slide of the might of the Rajiv Gandhi government began, to meet its eventual electoral defeat two years later.
Now come to Aatish Taseer. What lies behind the huge lie of his freedom being hurt is Taseer’s fake and fraudulent declarations under the citizenship laws of India.
According to my sources in the government and the papers which I have had access, Aatish had deliberately prevaricated about his father late Salman Taseer’s Pakistani citizenship in addition to the British, not once, but twice — once in 2000 and next in 2016. Under the Indian law, if any of Aatish’s parents or grandparents had ever held Pakistan passport, he was disentitled to get People of Indian Origin [PIO] card. Yet in the year 2000 Aatish got the PIO card by falsely declaring that his father was just British -- fraudulently concealing that, in addition to being British, he was Pakistani citizen also. This lie, deliberate one, is a serious offence at law. But what Aatish did the second time, in 2016, was a greater crime. His father had given up British citizenship in 2008 to contest elections in Pakistan. Yet, when in June 2016, Aatish got his PIO card converted into Overseas Citizen of India [OCI] he concealed the fact that his father had given up British citizenship and that he was only Pakistan citizen.
And Aatish’s next lie is that he got only 24 hours time to reply to the Indian government seeking explanation on why his OCI card should not be revoked for the misdeclaration. The government’s notice dated August 13, 2019 was served immediately through the Indian mission on his New York address, giving him the full statutory time of 21 days to respond. Aatish waited for the 21 day time to lapse, to file his reply on September 3, 2019. He had pretended in his reply — yes pretended -- that he did not know his father had given up British citizenship. Did he not know that his father could not have contested elections in Pakistan if he had held his British citizenship? In the interregnum Aatish’s mother Tavleen Singh, a noted journalist, had approached the Indian authorities in Delhi and New York to take a lenient view of his wrongdoing.
His biggest lie is that the article in Time Magazine that appeared in early May 2019, Aatish asked rhetorically “Can the World's Largest Democracy Endure Another Five Years of a Modi Government?” had led to the denial of the OCI card to him. Within weeks, the people of India answered his question with mandate for Narendra Modi more massive than the previous one he had got. It is the first time in India since the time of Nehru that a government completing its full term came back with a bigger majority than earlier. Aatish’s May article was no fair comment by any standards. With not a word about the many positives of the government noticed by even the worst critics of Modi, his was a little less than just vicious. If, for that article, the government had wanted to revoke his OCI it need not have waited for three months more to do that.
Months later Aatish now asks, “Why is the Government Sending Me Into Exile? Concealing the truth about why he lost his PIO/OCI cards might help get space in the Op-ed page, but not enable him to get around the law. The best course available to him is to contest the government action in courts and not slander Modi. Even the dirtiest personal attacks are not new to Modi. He has dared all vilification by the agenda-driven elitists and leftists. And yet there are many examples of Modi engaging with those who criticise him — the latest being the Nobel Prize winner economist Abhijit Bannerjee, a bitter Modi critic. After meeting Modi he said that it was a privilege to have met him and that Modi’s way of thinking about India was quite unique.
Aatish adopts the ‘cow urine’ slur against Hindus used by the Pulwama bomber before he launched the gruesome terror attack. There is no greater condemnation than being validated by a terrorist. Aatish also tweeted and asked a particular community to shed peace and organise themselves on the ground in response to a Twitter trend, which almost resembled the call of the people who kill in the name of religion. India had welcomed with open arms all persecuted people of the world for millennia. She had kept the Parsis and Jews alive and safe for centuries in her bosom.
India will welcome Aatish with open arms if he only he will comply with the laws. He must realise that Op-eds can’t help overcome citizenship frauds.