For over a year, there have been
U.S. attacks on Taliban and al Qaeda personnel inside Pakistan, typically just
across the border from Afghanistan. Pakistan has protested, and pro-Taliban Pakistani
border guards have been reported shooting at U.S. troops and helicopters on the
border, often inside Afghanistan. But Pakistan has done little beyond
protesting, and ordering its troops to fire on "invading" U.S.
forces. Not much has changed on the border as a result of that.
lack of real action is apparently due to U.S. officials (some quite senior )
holding several meetings with Pakistani leaders. These were described as
briefings and discussions about Taliban and al Qaeda operations inside
Pakistan, and pleas for more Pakistan action. But something else was presented
by the U.S. officials; international law. It goes like this. The United Nations
Charter allows nations to defend themselves when under attack, and allows
operations inside a foreign nation that cannot, or will not, stop attacks on a
foreign country from within its borders. This clause was included to cover a
common situation, where one nation will tolerate rebels from another taking
refuge inside its borders. This is usually rebels or bandits who base
themselves across a border, and use that base to conduct raids and banditry
inside the neighboring nation. Often, the sanctuary nation is unable to clean
out the hostile gunmen, or are unwilling to do so because they support the
goals of the gunmen, or simply want to weaken their neighbor by making it
easier for the rebels or bandits to operate.
would appear to meet these criteria. Afghan officials have long complained
about Taliban gunmen crossing over from Pakistan, often with the assistance of
Pakistani border guards. Same with al Qaeda. Pakistan has never been able to
control the tribes along the border, and has special laws that grant some
autonomy to the border tribes, as long as they control cross-border raids. Pakistan
has obviously not been controlling the Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists, so the
U.S., as an ally of the Afghans, has been crossing the border, in compliance
with the UN Charter, to strike at the hostile forces.
legal angle that has prevented Pakistan from taking the U.S. before an
international court. The Pakistanis know that there is a preponderance of
evidence proving that the Taliban and al Qaeda are camping out in Pakistan, and
operating across the border in Afghanistan. It's one of those rare cases where
the lawyers have come in handy in the war on terror.