Acclaimed writer and son of Indian journalist Tavleen Singh and former governor Salmaan Taseer, Aatish Taseer has written a controversial piece for Vanity Fair. From interviewing PM Khan’s former wife Reham Khan to singer Ali Zafar, Taseer is being severely criticised for writing a puff piece with quotes from an ex-wife and a singer accused of sexual harassment.
The Current decided to sum up the major points from his article.
1. Pakistan’s first lady Bushra Bibi has two jinns
According to a journalist who has not been named, Bushra Bibi, known as “Pinky Peerni” has two jinns and when people seek her guidance, she asks them for “great vats of cooked meat,” that she “fed to the jinns she has kept at her disposal”.
2. Khan married Bushra Bibi because of a dream
When PM Khan sought guidance from Bushra Bibi, according to Taseer, she told him that she had had a dream and according to the dream, “it was imperative he be married to the right woman—i.e., a member of Maneka’s own family.”
Taseer then relates that Bushra “offered her sister to Khan,” as well as her daughter. PM Khan refused and “then Maneka went away to dream again…and the voice in her head told her that she, Bushra Maneka, a married woman and a mother of five, was the wife Imran Khan needed.”
According to the article, Bushra Bibi’s husband Khawar Maneka, “agreed to give her a divorce,” so she could marry Khan.
3. “I have seen women from the age of just 6 to 60 going crazy over him”
Long-time friend Yousaf Salahuddin tells Taseer that Khan was a very wanted man in his younger days and girls as young as six years were crazy about him. This quote was inserted in a paragraph that describes Khan as a sex symbol.
4. Zulfi Bokhari refused to give Taseer an interview with Khan
Taseer said that he approached close aide and Special Assistant to the PM on Overseas Pakistanis, Zulfi Bokhari to set up an interview with PM Khan. But “when I spoke to Zulfi Bokhari, a frequenter of nightclubs from the London days… he sought assurances that my piece would be positive; otherwise, he told me, it would be his a** on the line. A few days later, Bokhari WhatsApped me: “Unfortunately the PM has said he can’t do it right now. Perhaps in the near future.”
5. Khan was envious of Benazir’s death
Taseer writes that when Benazir Bhutto died in 2007, Khan came to Pakistan a few days later “with a French girlfriend” and had been “photographed poolside in swimming trunks as his country was engulfed in trauma”.
Taseer also mentions the time when he met Khan alone after BB’s death, Khan said that God had saved Benazir. Khan said that BB, in making a deal with General Musharraf had done, “the most immoral thing you could have done. So this thing has come as a blessing for her.” Taseer asked Khan what he meant by “this thing” and Khan replied, “Death,” as a matter-of-fact. Then, with what sounded almost like envy, he added, “Benazir has become a martyr. She has become immortal.”
6. Khan identified himself as a “liberal”
In a discussion with singer Ali Zafar, Khan said that he was “a liberal” and said about his “right-wing” tilt that, “you just can’t talk about those issues so openly, because you’re going to be penalized for it.”
Khan told Ali that “You know me…I’m a liberal; I’ve got friends in India; I’ve got friends who are atheists. But you’ve got to be careful here,” meaning Pakistan.
Social media had mixed reactions to Taseer’s account.