Pakistan’s airstrike on Afghanistan’s territory on April 16 has sparked a diplomatic spat between the two countries.
The airstrikes were clearly illegal under international law.
According to Hamid Pakteen of the Afghan Diaspora Network, the attacks were allegedly in reprisal for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or Pakistani Taliban’s ‘violent deeds.’
However, Pakistan’s sudden use of overwhelming force resulted in 45 dead, including 20 minors (12 girls and 3 boys in Khost Province and 3 girls and 2 boys in Kunar Province).
The de facto Afghan government, the Taliban, criticised the attacks and summoned Pakistan’s envoy in Kabul to hand over a demarche.
Even if the ‘government’ in question came to power through unconstitutional means, the aforementioned would be the situation under international law, as long as there is no opposition entity with a constitutional claim.
That is why Naseer Ahmad Faiq, the Charge d’Affaires at Afghanistan’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, wrote to the President of the Security Council, claiming that the Pakistani Air Force’s airstrikes inside Afghanistan constitute “aggression against the territorial integrity” of Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s actions are clearly in breach of international law, most notably the prohibition on the use or threat of force enshrined in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. Respect for sovereignty and international borders is a fundamental foundation of international law.
Military force cannot be used against civilian targets, according to a fundamental tenet of international humanitarian law (the law of armed conflict). According to Pakteen, Pakistan’s acts are not only in violation of customary and treaty law governing the use of force, but also constitute war crimes because they are in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions.
Furthermore, these strikes pose a greater threat to the volatile Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. Many in eastern Afghanistan anticipated that further bloodshed might erupt as a result of the recent bombings, maybe turning into a full-scale war.
Surprisingly, this recent deterioration in Afghan-Pakistan relations comes after the Pakistani establishment had been aiding the Taliban administration in concluding the government formation following its takeover.