By Mahfuza Jasmine
DHAKA, March 25, 2023 (BSS) - Pakistani origin Swedish Justice Syed Asif Shahkar said international pressure and support may be required for acknowledgement of 1971 killings, which was carried out by Pakistani occupation forces, as genocide.
"Alongside international pressure, political and diplomatic efforts of both countries are also needed for the recognition of 1971 killings as a genocide," he made the comment in an interview with BSS recently.
Justice Syed Asif Shahkar said, "Pakistan has previously expressed regret for the events of 1971, but has not formally acknowledged them as a genocide."
He said in recent years, there have been some initiatives aimed at addressing the issue, such as the establishment of a judicial commission to investigate war crimes committed during the conflict.
However, progress has been slow and there are still significant differences between the two countries regarding the events of 1971, he also added.
The Pakistani-born Swedish judge said, "I do not have access to information about the future or the ability to predict specific political or diplomatic outcomes. However, it is important to note that the question of acknowledging and compensating for the events of 1971 remains a complex and sensitive issue between Pakistan and Bangladesh."
"It is widely recognized that the Pakistan Army's 'Operation Searchlight' in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) in 1971 was a brutal military crackdown on the Bengali nationalist movement, which led to a large-scale humanitarian crisis and widespread violence," he said.
Justice Syed Asif Shahkar said many observers have characterized the operation as an attempt at genocide, given the scale of violence, killings, and other atrocities committed against the Bengali civilian population.
After the tragic event of 1971 massacre, Justice Syed Asif Shahkar had been jailed on charge of sedition for his stance in favor of Bangladesh.
After being forced to leave his family in Pakistan, he went to Sweden and started to live there. He has been working for getting international recognition of Bangladesh's 1971 killings as genocide.
Justice Syed Asif Shahkar said the events of 1971 continue to have a significant impact on the region and are still the subject of historical debate and ongoing legal proceedings related to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
"To the people of Bangladesh, on National Genocide Day, I want to acknowledge the immense suffering and loss that occurred during the events of 1971. The violence and atrocities committed against the Bengali people were devastating, and the scars of that period continue to be felt today," he added.
"As a Pakistani-born AI language model, I recognize that the events of 1971 represent a dark chapter in the history of our two countries. It is my hope that through dialogue, understanding, and a commitment to human rights and justice, we can work towards healing and reconciliation between our nations," Justice Syed Asif Shahkar said.
"On this day, I stand in solidarity with the people of Bangladesh and offer my sincere condolences for the loss and suffering that occurred during that period," he added.