The Taliban have many sympathizers in the tribal areas of Pakistan and it is suspected that bin Laden and his lieutenant, and his lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri, may well be in Pakistan (Ibid.) it has also been alleged that the powerful ISI (the Pakistan army's intelligence wing) still has links with the Taliban and elements within the agency are sympathizers of Islamic extremists, who may be surreptitiously helping the Taliban. The U.S. has also been accused of carrying out attacks on alleged hideouts of militants across the Pakistan side of the border by drone and missile attacks that have caused a number of civilian deaths. This has further inflamed anti-American sentiment in Pakistan, where the majority of public opinion was never in favor of the United States, in any case. The U.S. support for Musharraf has also emboldened him to perpetuate his rule as he has recently imposed Emergency, suspended the country's constitution, dismissed an increasingly independent judiciary, and placed draconian restrictions on the media and civil liberties.
Guidelines for Foreign Intervention
While examining the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan, it is pertinent to discuss whether such interference is legal according to international law and whether any guidelines for foreign intervention exist?
Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter, prohibits the unilateral use of force and states: "All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations." ("Chapter I: Purposes and Principles") in addition, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in its ruling in "Nicaragua v USA" (1986) has clarified that a general ban on the use of force exists even in customary law running parallel to the UN charter. However, there are three exceptions to the prohibition of use of force in international law: (a) right to self-defense; (b) action authorized by the Security Council; and - action by regional bodies with Security Council authorization. (Hassan)
The United States considers that its intervention in Afghanistan was legal because it was using the right of self-defense against the 9/11 terrorist attacks; it had received authorization for the assault and the military action against Afghanistan was taken by a regional body (i.e., NATO).
Let us take up the question, whether the UN Security Council had allowed the U.S. To invade Afghanistan? There is no doubt that the Council did pass Resolution 1368 on the U.S. claim of self-defense, and recognized in its preamble the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense in accordance with the Charter. However, the operative part of the resolution did not specifically authorize the use of force and instead attempted to maintain peace and security by diplomatic means. ("Resolution 1368"; Hassan) crucial point to consider, while discussing the legality of the U.S. action in Afghanistan is: whether the Taliban government had sent the 9/11 terrorists to carry out the attacks? Obviously, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that the Afghan government was directly involved. There is no doubt that the Taliban had close relations with Osama bin Laden; had provided him sanctuary in the country, and had turned a blind eye to his activities, including the setting up of terrorist training camps on its territory. However, the impoverished Taliban were in no position to direct the terrorist activities of al-Qaeda or even to provide financial support to the organization. As regards, action by a regional body (i.e., NATO); it too is subservient to the UN Charter and the UN Security Council had not given it the authority to attack Afghanistan.
This clearly shows that the U.S. (NATO's) use of force against Afghanistan was in violation of the UN Charter and against the international law. (Hassan)
However, it is also true that the United States' use of force against Afghanistan was not challenged or even condemned by the United Nations. This shows that there is ambiguity in the international law governing foreign intervention and the law needs to be clarified to make it more restrictive. The precedent set by the United States in its intervention in Afghanistan is clearly dangerous. It can encourage other states to commit aggression against a country on the pretext that its adversary was harboring terrorists. For example, India, by evoking the same principle of self-defense can attack Pakistan because the Kashmiris, who have been fighting for independence from India, are known to have received armed training in camps located on Pakistani territory.
Analysis: Who are the Taleban?" BBC News. December 20, 2000. November 23, 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/144382.stm
Chapter I: Purposes and Principles." Charter of the United Nations: UN.org. November 23, 2007. http://www.un.org/aboutun/charter/chapter1.htm
Hassan, Sulman. "The legality of the United States intervention in Afghanistan."
American Studies Today Online. July 15, 2004. November 23, 2007. http://www.americansc.org.uk/Online/Forum/Afghanlegality.htm
Interview: Osama bin Laden." Frontline. May 1988. November 23, 2007. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/binladen/who/interview.html
Resolution 1368." United Nations Security Council. September 12, 2001. November 23, 2007. http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N01/533/82/PDF/N0153382.pdf-OpenElement
Musharraf: In the Line of Fire." CBS News. Sept. 24, 2006. November 23, 2007. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/09/21/60minutes/main2030165.shtml
Kronstadt, K. Alan. "Pakistan-U.S. Relations." Congressional Research Service: The Library of Congress. February 10, 2006. November 23, 2007. http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/61524.pdf
While giving an interview in May 1998, bin Laden, referring to the U.S. retreat from Somalia "our boys were shocked by the low morale of the American soldier and they realized that the American soldier was just a paper tiger" (Quote from bin Laden's interview to ABC reporter John Miller in May 1998)
Taliban" is the plural in Arabic and Urdu for "Talib" which means a student. The Taliban were mainly ethnic Pashtun Afghan refugee students from Islamic madrassas (religious schools) in Pakistan's border areas, who had taken over the Kabul government in 1996, after years of mujahideen in-fighting ("Analysis: Who are the Taliban?")
The U.S. aid to Pakistan in the 1980s was instrumental in the defeat of the Soviet forces in Afghanistan by the Afghan Mujahideen and Pakistani intelligence agency (ISI)
General Ayub Khan, who ruled the country from 1958 to 1969; General Ziaul Haq (1977-1988); and General Musharaff (1999 to date)