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DACCA Diary from Intercontinental Hotel, Dec 8, 1971

  • Published at 04:14 am December 8th, 2019
Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

In honour of the month of victory, the Dhaka Tribune is republishing the Pulitzer Prize winning daily dispatches of then Wall Street Journal (WSJ) correspondent Peter R Kann


The breakfast rumor is that Gen Niazi bugged out last night on a small plane to Burma. Last week he said: “The more Indians who come, the more Indians to kill, the more I am happy.” Tend to doubt the bugout report, but he may later wish he had.

Military situation still very vague but reports have Indian advance units about 35 miles from Dacca. “The military situation is deteriorating faster than we anticipated,” an embassy source says. The Bengalis one encounters seem delighted by the way it’s going. Independent nation of Bangladesh probably no more than a week away.

UN mercy-flight plans seem to be in limbo. The UN people are always in conference. Curious how much attention we all pay to the plight of several hundred foreign nationals stranded at Intercontinental. A half million or so Bengalis probably died in last nine months; another 10 million or more trapped in misery of border camps. What makes a few hundred Western lives so valuable?

Rooftop air-strike-watcher crowd thinning a bit. Rumor has it one cameraman was nicked in backside by piece of ack-ack shrapnel. Intercontinental filling up with armed West Pakistani civilians, which makes other guests uneasy. Radio says President Nixon says war broke of sensitive negotiations that could have led to “virtual autonomy” for East Pakistan. Last March the Bengalis were demanding “virtual autonomy”. Bit late for virtuals. Television correspondents have secret information that small Pak plane planning to make secret night flight to secret Burma airstrip and pilot willing to take some film and newspaper copy. Film packed in suitcase and ready to go.

One of week’s unlikelier eventualities: In evening we roast marshmallows over a candle on a poker table.

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