Washington Post

October 17 1971

Pakistani Plight "Desperate"

By Anthony Astrachan

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UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 16—There has been some progress on humanitarian relief in the East Pakistan crisis but none on the political and military sides, according to U.N. sources, and the situation remains "desperate."

Forty-seven speakers in the annual U.N. general debate that ended this week called for political reconciliation, but none moved to put the problem on the agenda of the General Assembly or the Security Council.

U.N. officials suggested two causes. One was collective fatigue from involvement in Chinese representation, the Middle East conflict and the other was fear of involvement in a great-power conflict. Secretary General U Thant urged the Security Council to take action on this "potential threat to peace and security" last August. Private consultations showed Soviet backing India and American leanings toward Pakistan, and the council refused to endorse Thant's expression of concern.

India estimates that 9.3 million refugees had fled from East Pakistan to India as of Oct. 11. Pakistan puts the refugee figure at 2 million. U.N. officials are reckoning relief supplies in terms of 6.5 to 8.5 million refugees, with thousands more crossing the border every day.

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