Pakistan’s bombing on Afghan territory on April 16 this year has sparked a diplomatic controversy between the two nations. The airstrikes were clearly illegal under international law. According to Hamid Pakteen of the Afghan Diaspora Network, these bombings were allegedly in reprisal for ‘violent activities’ by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or Pakistani Taliban. However, Pakistan’s sudden deployment of overwhelming force resulted in 45 dead, including 20 minors, including 12 girls and 3 boys in Khost Province and 3 girls and 2 boys in Kunar Province.

Afghanistan’s de facto government, the Taliban rule, denounced the attacks and summoned Pakistan’s envoy in Kabul to give over a demarche.

According to international law, this is true even if the ‘government’ in issue came to power by unlawful means, as long as there is no opposition body with a constitutional claim.

That is precisely why, according to Naseer Ahmad Faiq, Charge d’Affaires of Afghanistan’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, attacks by the Pakistani Air Force within 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 UN Charter. Respect for sovereignty and international borders is a fundamental foundation of international law.

Similarly, one of the most fundamental principles of international humanitarian law (the law of armed conflict) is that military force cannot be used against civilians. According to Pakteen, Pakistan’s acts are not only inconsistent to customary and treaty law controlling the use of force, but also constitute war crimes since they violate the Geneva Conventions.

Furthermore, these strikes pose greater risks to the volatile Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. Many in eastern Afghanistan anticipated that the recent bombings would spark further unrest, maybe turning into a full-fledged war.

Surprisingly, this new deterioration in Afghan-Pakistan ties comes after the Pakistani Establishment had been supporting the Taliban rule following its takeover and helped in the construction of the government.