AFGHAN CONFLICT

Law College, Gomal University, Dera Ismail Khan, (NWFP) Pakistan


The Geneva Convention IV of 1949 extensively dwells upon protection of civilians during war. The Protocol (I)
Additional to the Geneva Conventions, adopted in 1977 also contains provisions for the protection of civilians from
the cruelty of war. Afghanistan was attacked by US led coalition forces on 7th October 2001 in the name of “the
Operation Enduring Freedom” commonly known as ‘War against Terrorism’. This paper studies the various
provisions of International Humanitarian Law, particularly Geneva Convention IV and Protocol I, which are more
concerned with protection of civilian population, prohibit attacking civilian objectives, and insist upon the
conflicting-parties to take all pre-cautionary measures to avoid civilian casualties and losses. It will study and
analyze the civilian losses and casualties occurred in Afghanistan in the ‘War against Terrorism’; whether the
civilian losses were necessary and proportionate to achieving military objectives, whether it were unavoidable and
all precautionary measures were taken by the US-led coalition forces; or the Afghan civilians suffered due to care-
free, senseless and indiscriminate attacks on the part of the coalition forces. Whether the International
Humanitarian Law protecting civilian population was taken into account or not?

INTRODUCTION                                                 (Hingorani, 1995). Resolution 2444 of the UN
                                                             General      Assembly      in   1969  prohibits
Ever since the institution of war, it has been               indiscriminate warfare which may endanger
understood that war is between the armed forces              protection of civilian population during war
of belligerent states. Civilians who do not                  (Hingorani, 1995). The Protocol (I) Additional
participate in hostilities should be protected               to the Geneva Conventions, adopted in 1977
against acts of war. This has been recognized                also contains provisions for the protection of
from ancient days. Every modern code reiterates              civilians from the cruelty of war.
protection of civilians from the rigours of war.
In 1938 League of Nations resolved to spare and              The four Geneva Conventions have received
protect civilians from aerial bombardment                    universal recognition and ratification. All
(Hingorani, 1995). Protection for the civilian               partners of the coalition against terrorism
people at the time of war was felt very                      including the US are parties to these
insistently by the organizations struggling for              conventions. The US has not ratified the
the protection and enforcement of human rights               Protocol but almost all rules of the Protocol I are
particularly International Committee of the Red              based on the international customary laws of the
Cross (ICRC) as a large number of civilian                   war (HRW Report 2002).
people were perished in the world war II by
indiscriminate firing and heavy bombardment of               This paper will study the various provisions of
the civilian population by the fighting forces. To           International Humanitarian Law, particularly
avoid      civilian    causalities,    in    future          Geneva Convention IV and Protocol I, which are
wars/conflicts, a convention was adopted in                  more concerned with protection of civilian
Geneva in 1949, “Convention (IV) _ relative to               population,     prohibit    attacking      civilian
the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of                objectives, and insist upon the conflicting-
War, Geneva, 12 August, 1949”. The Geneva                    parties to take all pre-cautionary measures to
Convention IV of 1949 extensively dwells upon                avoid civilian casualties and losses. It will study
protection of civilians during war. The 19th                 and analyze the civilian losses and casualties
conference of Red Cross in 1957 adopted the                  occurred in Afghanistan in “the Operation
draft rules for protection of civilians during war           Enduring Freedom” commonly known as ‘War
                        A. Shah, Gomal university Journal of Research, 22: 80-89 (2006)                      81

against Terrorism’; whether the civilian losses            member of armed forces mentioned in the article
were necessary and proportionate to achieving              43 of Protocol I. So much importance has been
military objectives, whether it were unavoidable           given to the status of civilian by article 50 of the
and all precautionary measures were taken by               Protocol that according to the article in case of
the US-led coalition forces; or the Afghan                 doubt whether a particular person is a civilian or
civilians suffered due to care-free, senseless and         not he shall be considered as civilian.
indiscriminate attacks on the part of the coalition
forces. Whether the International Humanitarian             Article 48 of the Protocol I defines civilians
Law protecting civilian population was taken               while article 52 of the same Protocol specifies
into account or not? This study is limited to the          civilian objects and differentiates it from
civilian losses occurred during the period from            military objectives. The article says, “Civilian
7th October to 31st December 2001.                         objects are all objects which are not military
                                                           objectives”. Military objectives are limited by
This research is basically of descriptive nature.          this article to ‘those object which by their nature,
It has been designed to analyze the violation of           location, purpose or use make an effective
International Humanitarian Law by the Coalition            contribution to military action and whose total or
Forces in the operation of Afghanistan. For this           partial destruction, capture or neutralization
purpose     relevant    books     and    relevant          ……offer a definite military advantage”. It
humanitarian law have been studied. The data               further clarifies that “in case of doubt whether
are     secondary       as     collected     from          an object, which is normally dedicated to
national/international journals, online materials          civilian purposes, such as a place of worship, a
and various daily newspapers. For the collection           house, or other dwelling or school, is being used
of data, extensive and intensive study has been            to make an effective contribution to military
made of daily English newspapers, particularly,            action, it shall be presumed not to be so used”.
Dawn and The News from September 11, 2001                   Provisions of Geneva Convention IV:
to May 2002.
                                                           The provisions of Geneva Convention IV of
Definition of Civilian: Article 50 of Protocol I           1949, which provide protection to the civilian
of 1977 defines civilians and civilian population          population and civilian targets, are given below:
in the following words:                                    Article 13: according to article 13 of the Geneva
1. “A civilian is any person who does not                  Convention IV of 1949, the whole of the
     belong to one of the categories of persons            population of the countries in conflict is
     referred to in article 4 (A) 1, 2, 3, and 4 of        protected against certain consequences of war,
     the third convention and article 43 of this           without any distinction particularly based on
     Protocol. In case of doubt whether a person           race, nationality, religion or political opinion.
     is a civilian, that person shall be considered        This article provides equal protection to all
     to be a civilian.                                     persons of the conflicting-nations irrespective of
2. The civilian population comprises all                   their race, nationality, faith or political ideology.
     persons who are civilians.                            Article 18: this article protects at all times and in
3. The presence within the civilian population             all circumstances whatsoever, all civilian
     of individuals who do not come within the             hospitals organized to give care to the wounded
     definition of civilians does not deprive the          and sick, the infirm and maternity cases. Such
     population of its civilian character”.                civilian hospitals be marked by means of an
                                                           emblem and cannot be object of attack. While
Article 4 of the third Geneva Convention                   according to article 19, the protection to which
referred above in the definition, describes the            civilian hospital are entitled under article 18
categories of prisoners of war. Article 43 of this         above “shall not cease unless they are used to
protocol referred above specifies armed forces             commit, outside their humanitarian duties, acts
of the conflicting parties. It means, in short, that       harmful to the enemy”. It is further clarified that
a civilian is any person who is neither prisoner           mere treatment or nursing of “sick or wounded
of war under article 4 of third convention nor a           members of the armed forces” in these hospitals
82                      A. Shah, Gomal university Journal of Research, 22: 80-89 (2006)

“shall not be considered to be acts harmful to the         hostilities, in addition to the rules concerning
enemy”. If any act harmful to the enemy is                 humanitarian protection contained in the fourth
committed, the protection given under article 18           convention as well as other rules of international
and 19 “may cease only after due warning has               law. The provisions of Protocol I regarding
been given…. a reasonable time limit and after             protection of civilian population are enumerated
such warning has remained unheeded”. Article               below.
20 of Geneva convention IV of 1949 gives
protection to persons regularly and solely                 Article 48 of the Protocol I emphasizes upon the
engaged in the operation and administration of             belligerent parties to “distinguish between the
civilian hospitals, including the personnel                civilian population and combatants and between
engaged in the search of, removal and                      civilian objects and military objects and
transporting of, and earning for wounded and               according shall direct their operations only
sick civilian, the infirm and maternity cases.             against military objectives”. Article 51 declares
Where as Article 21 gives protection to conveys            that “civilian population as such, as well as
of vehicles or hospital trains on land or vessels          individual civilians, shall not be the object of
on sea conveying wounded and sick civilians,               attack”. This protection shall be enjoyed by the
the infirm and maternity cases.                            civilians, “unless and for such time as they take
                                                           a direct part in hostilities”. The same article also
 According to article 27, all persons protected by         prohibits “attacks against the civilian population
the Geneva Convention IV “are entitled, in all             or civilians by way of reprisals” or
circumstances, to respect for their persons their          “indiscriminate attacks”. Where as article 52 of
honour, their family rights, their religious               the Protocol prohibits attacking civilian objects
convictions and practices, and their manners and           in very clear words saying, “Civilian objects
customs. They shall at all times be humanely               shall not be the object of attack or of reprisals.”
treated and shall be protected especially against          Article 53 of the Protocol I prohibits attacks
all acts of violence or threats thereof and against        against cultural property and places of worship.
insult and public curiosity”. This article provides        It also prohibits the use of such objects in
especial protection to women “against any attack           support of the military effort.
on their honour in particular against rape,
enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent             Article 54:       this article prohibits attack
assault”. According to article 33, a protected             against, destruction or removal of “objects
person may not be punished for an offence,                 indispensable to the survival of the civilian
which he or she has not personally committed.              population, such as food stuffs, agricultural
This article prohibits collective penalties, all           areas for the production of food stuffs, crops,
measures of intimidation and reprisals against             livestock,      livestock,    drinking   water
protected persons and their property.                      installations”.

Article 29 of the Convention IV presents the               Article 55 provides protection to the natural
concept of collective responsibility. “The party           environment. It says that care shall be taken in
to the conflict in whose hands protected persons           warfare to protect the natural environment
may be, is responsible for the treatment                   against widespread, long term and severe
accorded to them by its agents irrespective of             damage. Attacks against the natural environment
any individual responsibility which may be                 by way of reprisals are also prohibited.
                                                           International humanitarian law protects civilians,
Protection of Civilians under Protocol I                   civilian population and civilian objects not only
                                                           against the direct attacks of the adversary, but it
Protocol (I) Additional to the Geneva                      also insists upon the conflicting-parties to take
Conventions contains some provisions relating              precautionary measures to avoid civilian losses.
to the protection of civilians and civilian objects        It also provides some guidelines to the parties in
on land, at sea or in the air against the effects of       the conflict in this regard. Article 57 of the
                        A. Shah, Gomal university Journal of Research, 22: 80-89 (2006)                    83

Protocol I is about precautions in attacks. It says        no many military objectives and cites.
“in the conduct of military operations, constant           Afghanistan is a poor and backward country and
care shall be taken to spare the civilian                  all important buildings, cites and installations
population, civilians and civilian objects”. With          have been completely or partially damaged
respect to attacks, it says “those who plan or             either in the war against the Soviet occupation in
decide upon an attack shall;                               1979 or in the civil war since the Soviet
• do everything feasible to verify that the                withdrawal in 1989. Yet this war-ravaged
    objectives to be attacked are neither civilians        country was considered strong enough to be
    nor civilian objects and are not subject to            heavily bombed for several months by the super
    special protection but are military                    power of the world.
• take all feasible precaution in choice of                Three days after strikes began the US Defense
    means and methods of attack with a view to             Secretary, Rumsfeld announced that the US had
    avoiding and in any event minimizing,                  achieved “air superiority” over Afghanistan -
    incidental loss or civilian life, injury to            over air force, which could not even leave the
    civilians and damage to civilian objects;              ground. The question is what were the “allies”
• refrain from deciding to launch any attack               bombing after achieving air superiority? The UN
    which may be expected to cause incidental              mine-clearing staff, the shepherds and their
    loss of civilian life, injury to civilians,            families in the village, the Red Cross food
    damage to civilian objects”.                           storages in Kabul, the residents of Kandahar, the
                                                           schools, the mosques, the hospitals, the trucks
It further states “an attack shall be cancelled or         full of terrified refugees. Not a single day passed
suspended if it becomes apparent that the                  without civilian casualty or injury. The US
objective is not a military one or is subject to           bombing of Afghanistan has left unknown
special protection or that the attack may be               number of civilians dead or injured. The list of
expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life,        incidents where non-military targets were hit by
injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects”.          US bombs/missiles is very lengthy but only
                                                           some of them are here described.
Analyses of the Afghanistan Situation
                                                           On the third day of the operation, i.e. 9th October
After going through the relevant provisions of             2001, office of an UN-backed de-mining agency
the Geneva Convention IV and Protocol I which              in Kabul was bombed, killing four security
dwell upon the protection of the civilians,                guards (The News Oct: 11, 2001). US expressed
civilian population and civilian objects, the ‘war         regret only after UN protest.
against terrorism’ in Afghanistan is analyzed
and studied in the light of these provisions;              Kadam, a village of few hundred inhabitants
whether the provisions protecting civilians were           near Jalalabad (Eastern Afghanistan) was totally
respected and followed by the coalition forces or          devastated by US bombers on Oct. 11, 2001
not; whether precautionary measures as required            (The News Oct: 12, 2001). Nearly all the
by international law to avoid civilian losses,             villagers were dead, the wounded, mostly
were taken or not; whether the civilian losses             children and infants were taken to hospitals in
and casualties happened due to unavoidable                 Jalalabad, according to the report of Al-Jazeera
circumstances or due to senseless indiscriminate           TV correspondent in Kabul. At least 160
attacks and excessive use of weapons.                      civilians were deed (The News Oct: 14, 2001).
                                                           An AFP reporter who visited the remote village
The coalition forces started operation against             saw dozens of collapsed houses, one unexploded
Afghanistan on 7th Oct. 2001 with aerial massive           bomb and large number of fresh graves (The
bombardments and cruise missiles. From the                 News Oct: 25, 2001).
start of the campaign US attack had targeted
power plant, telecommunications’ facilities and            On Oct 13, US bomb missed a target at Kabul
broadcasting infrastructure, as Afghanistan had            airport and struck a nearby village, killing at
84                    A. Shah, Gomal university Journal of Research, 22: 80-89 (2006)

least four people (The News Oct: 14, 2001).              A village in Kandahar identified as Chukar
The Pentagon confirmed that the bomb had gone            Kariz was hit by US bombs on Oct. 23, killing
off course due to technical error.                       about 93 civilians including 18 members of one
                                                         family according to the report of Qatar’s al-
Red Cross warehouses:          US bombs hit              Jazeera television (The News Oct: 24, 2001).
warehouses of ICRC in Kabul, on October 16,              The 18 family members who died in the attack
destroying supplies and injuring at least one            had fled Kandahar for safety in the village
worker. The compound had an emblem of large              following US military strikes on the city. The
Red Cross on the roof. After protest from the            attack on the said village was later on confirmed
Red Cross the US admitted dropping a 1,000               by the press media also (The News Oct: 25,
pounds bomb close to the warehouse, saying               2001). On Oct.23, 2001 the representative of UN
Taliban vehicles were in the area. A warehouse           in Kabul also accused the coalition forces of
of the World Food Program in Kabul was also              attacking civilian targets and killing civilians.
damaged in raids (The News Oct: 17, 2001).               Human Rights Watch asked US to stop killing of
On October 18, six houses were destroyed by the          innocent afghan civilians. All of the witnesses
US bombs in the Kalae Zaman Khan area of                 interviewed by HRW were adamant that there
Kabul. Five members of the same family were              were no Taliban or Al-Qaida positions in the
among the casualty, witnesses and relatives told         area of the attack (Chukar Kariz), which is in a
AFP at the scene (The News Oct: 19, 2001).               remote rural area of Afghanistan (The News
Other residential areas were also struck on the          Oct: 31, 2001).
same day.
                                                         Mosque bombing: according to the United
On Oct 21, a US bomb landed on the neighbour             Nations’ report, on Oct. 24, a mosque was hit by
hood of Parod Gajaded in the Khair Khana                 US bombs in a military camp in the Western
district of North Eastern Kabul, killing ten             Afghan city Herat and a nearby village was also
people, nine of them from the same extended              targeted during attacks on the city (The News
family; witnesses told an AFP reporter who               Oct: 25, 2001). Almost all major cities had
visited the scene shortly after the bombing. On          become virtual ghost towns due to fear of the
the same date in another incident, convey of             air-strikes. UN spokeswoman Stephanie Bunker
refugees was attacked. At least 20 civilian              told a press conference that the mosque was in
including nine children, were killed when the            the same compound where hospital was hit
tractor and trailer were bombed on which they            earlier by the US air force.
where fleeing US attacks on the southern town
of Tirinkot (The News Oct: 22, 2001). Similar            ICRC warehouses: There were five warehouses
incidents were also happened near Kandahar and           managed and controlled by ICRC for the storage
Jalalabad both on October 17.                            of food ad cooking oil intended for widows and
                                                         disabled people, according to Mario Musa,
Hospital bombing: At least 100 civilians mostly          ICRC spokesman. One warehouse was lost in
patients were killed and score of others injured         the US attack on Oct, 16 (mentioned above).
in the bombing of a hospital in Heart city on            Three out of the remaining four warehouses
Oct. 22, according to the UN representative (The         were destroyed by the US bombers on Oct, 26.
News Oct: 23, 2001). The US acknowledged a               According to the spokesman two warehouses
bomb went astray over the city and might have            were directly hit by bombs or missiles and the
struck an old people’s house. One has to bear in         third was destroyed in the fire (The News Oct:
mind that there is no concept of old people’s            27, 2001). This was second attack on the ICRC
houses in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan. It is         warehouses since the operation started on Oct. 7.
very disappointing that the super power of the           On October 28, US bombed Ghanikhil, civilian
world was giving false statement to the worlds           town of the Northern Allince, killing 13 civilians
and had no courage to admit its mistakes and             including a father and his 7 children. (Universal
blunders.                                                Community of Friends).
                       A. Shah, Gomal university Journal of Research, 22: 80-89 (2006)                  85

On November 13, about 100 Taliban were killed             confirmed dead in Pacheragam district Jalalabad
in school. The UN coordinator’s office                    only (The News Dec. 3, 2001). According to
spokeswomen Stephanie Bunker told to press                Dawn’s report (Dec. 4, 2001) nearly 100
conference on Nov.13 that Northern Alliance               civilians were and 200 wounded in three nights
(partner of the collation) forces had killed more         of US air strikes near Jalalabad, quoting the
than 100 young Taliban recruits hiding in a               provincial military chief commander Hajji
school in Mazar-i-Sharif. Al-Jazeera TV office            Mohammad Zaman. United Nations Office of
in Kabul was bombed by US warplanes on the                Coordinator for Humanitarian Assistance
same date (Nov.13), hours before Northern                 (UNOCHA) confirmed the reports of civilian
Alliance forces entered the Afghan capital,               killings in Tora Bora, and in and around
Kabul (Dawn, Nov:14, 2001). The Qatar’s                   Kandahar due to massive coalition bombing in
satellite station had angered some in Washington          the beginning of December, 2001 (The News
by broadcasting pre-tapped speeches of Osama              Dec.4, 2001). Hajji Din Mohammad elder
bin Laden denouncing America. According to                brother of Hajji Abdul Qadeer (the then
BBC world service correspondent William                   Governor      of    Nangarhar    province      of
Reeve, the US had scored a direct hit on the              Afghanistan) – criticizing US bombing of
offices of the Qatar based TV station Al-Jazeera,         Jalalabad said that there was no justification of
leading to speculation that the channel had been          pounding the areas, which were under the
targeted deliberately because of its contacts with        control of anti-Taliban forces that are
Taliban and Osama bin Laden. A presenter on               cooperating with the US to ascertain hideouts of
BBC world, Nik Gowing’s argument was that                 the alleged terrorists. “The US forces are
Al-Jazeera’s only crime was that it was “bearing          targeting villages and civilians in Jalalabad,
witness” to events that the US wanted to                  which is wrong” he added (The News Dec.3,
suppress (Dawn, Nov:21, 2001). He further said            2001).
that there was no clear evidence that Al-Jazeera
directly supported the Taliban - simply that it           On December 9 night, bombing by US
enjoyed greater access than other station.                warplanes killed 16 civilians in the neighboring
Certainly Al Jazeera reflects a certain cultural          Paktika province that also borders Pakistan.
traditions, but only in the same way as CNN               Eyewitnesses who reached Peshawar said
approaches stories from a western perspective.            Paktika’s provincial capital, Sharana and
                                                          Maskhel village sited about 20 kilometers away
United Nations Mine Action Progammes sub                  were bombed by at least two jets. The losses
office in Kandahar was hit during US aerial               were higher in Maskhel where four men sitting
stakes on the city on Nov. 16. Responding to the          in “Etkaf” in the Saqawa mosque were among
question whether the UN had given information             those killed. An entire family comprising
to the US about the location of its building in           Ghulam shah, his wife and four children was
Afghanistan the UN coordination office                    wiped out in the bombing raid (The News
spokesperson Stephanie Bunker said that all the           Dec.10, 2001). Earlier another mosque was hit
sites of the UN were well marked. On the same             on the outskirts of Khost town killing over two
night a mosque and the Taliban foreign ministry           dozens of the faithful when the US warplanes
building were destroyed in heavy US bombing               struck in a bid to eliminate a former Taliban
of Kandahar, killing 11 civilians and more than           minister and known Mujahidden commander
25 persons were injured (Dawn, Nov:17, 2001).             Jalal ud din Haqqani (Yusafzai, 2001). Among
                                                          the dead were several young Taliban below the
Civilian bombing in Kandahar and Jalalabad                age of 15 studying at a nearby madressa to learn
                                                          the Holy Quran by heart. The raid took place
More than 75 civilians including women and                when the mosque was full during the late
children were reported dead and scores of others          evening Isha’a and Taraweeh prayers (as it was
injured in air strikes by US-Anglo warplanes on           month of Ramazan). In the words of Rahimullah
Kandahar and Jalalabad on the night between 1st           Yousafzai, “Having run out of military targets in
and 2nd December. As many as 45 persons were              Afghanistan, the US warplanes wanting to get
86                     A. Shah, Gomal university Journal of Research, 22: 80-89 (2006)

ride of their payloads, have bombed vehicles              On Dec. 29 in an air raid on Niazi Qala, a village
carrying civilians and flattened village that have        in Paktia, more than 100 civilians were killed.
nothing to do with the Taliban or Al-Qaeda Arab           The pentagon claimed it had hit a Taliban
fighters.”                                                ammunition depot. Villagers, however said that
                                                          many of the people killed, including women and
The US aerial strikes that were begun on                  children, had congregated for a wedding.
October 7, 2001 continued for several months,             (Bearak, February 10, 2002).
displaced hundreds of thousands of people,
exposing them to cold and hunger and depriving            “We’ve got about 300 incidents in our database,
them of dignity. Amidst heavy snowfall,                   and I’d say about a third involve some civilian
thousands of people living in the foothills of            casualties that would be worth taking a second
Tora Bora and Spina Shaga Mountains had left              look at,” said Mr. Arkin, the Human Rights
their homes owing to severe round the clock               Watch adviser, who is also an adjunct Professor
bombing by the coalition forces. Due to the               at the US Air Force’s School of Advanced
absence of United Nations officials in eastern            Airpower Studies. (Bearak, February 10, 2002).
Afghanistan, these new internally displaced               The first systematic independent study has been
persons along with the old ones in the region             carried out into civilian casualties in
numbering at least 3, 00,000, were “sleeping in           Afghanistan by Mare Herold, a US economics
the open air in sub zero temperatures” without            professor at the University of New Hampshire.
any hope of assistance in term of food, shelter or        Based on corroborated reports from aid
health. Meanwhile WHO officials reported that             agencies, the UN, eye witnesses, TV stations,
the Pacheragam health clinic in the area had              newspapers and news agencies around the
been destroyed by the coalition forces heavy              world, Herold estimates that at least 3, 767
bombardment of the area, and the remaining                civilians were killed by US bombs between Oct.
clinic in the region were difficult to access (The        7 and Dec. 10 (Dawn Dec. 21, 2001). That is an
News Dec. 14, 2001).                                      average of 62 innocent deaths a day and an even
                                                          higher figure than the 3234 now thought to have
Sixty five people were killed on Dec. 20 when             been killed in New York and Washington on
US jets bombed a convoy of Afghan elders,                 September 11. According to a Pennsylvania
tribal chiefs and commanders heading for the              nonprofit organization – Universal Community
inauguration ceremony of Afghanistan’s new                of Friends- the estimate of civilian losses in
government in Kabul. Warplanes attacked the               Afghanistan is up to 4000, (January 29th 2002).
vehicles on a road at Sato Kandaw, 25 Kms
south of Gerdez, the capital of Paktia province.          Of course, Herald’s total is only an estimate. But
According to Afghan Islamic Press (AIP)                   according to a British journalist Seumas Milne
fourteen vehicles in the convoy were totally              (Dec. 2001) what is impressive about Herold's
destroyed and several Afghan elders, tribal               work is not only the meticulous cross checking,
chiefs and commanders were among the victims              but the conservative assumptions he applies to
of the killings (Dawn Dec.22, 2001).                      each reported incidents. The figure does not
                                                          include those who died later of bomb injuries,
Dozens of Afghan civilians were Killed in air             nor those killed after Dec. 10, 2001, nor those
strikes today when a village was intentionally            who have died from cold and hunger because
bombed by the US on December 27th , 2001. The             they were forced to become refugees by the
villagers said there were no Al Qaida there and           bombardments. It dos not include military deaths
could not understand why they targeted.                   (estimated by some analysts to be upwards of
Rumsfield said they suspected that Al Qaida               10,000); or those prisoners who were
were there. He said Osama bin Laden is                    slaughtered in Mazar-I-Sharif, Qala-i-Jangi,
responsible for the civilian deaths. (Universal           Kandahar airport and elsewhere.
Community of Friends).
                                                          In the violation of the Geneva Convention IV,
                                                          1949 and the Protocol I, 1977, the US-led
                       A. Shah, Gomal university Journal of Research, 22: 80-89 (2006)                   87

collation did not take any precautionary                  After complete destruction of Chowkar-Karez
measures for the protection of the civilian               village in air strikes, the Human Rights Watch
population. Consequently, a large number of               released a report (Oct. 2001), raising a question,
civilian casualties including women and children          “If there were military targets in the area, we
occurred. The United Nations repeatedly                   would like to know what they were”? Asia
sounded an alarm over the use of cluster bombs            Director of HRW, Sidney Jones further said,
by American aircraft attacking Afghanistan. The           “None of the witnesses interviewed by Human
UN reported of the cluster bomb – a weapon                Rights Watch knew of Taliban or Al-Qaida
used by American forces in every war since                positions in the area of the attack”.
Vietnam that has frequently caused civilian
deaths, was the latest of a growing number of             According to Sidhu (Dec. 2001), an Indian
accounts of bomb going astray and causing                 journalist “The taking of innocent lives be they
civilian casualties – cluster bombs scatter 200           American, Indian, Pakistani, Palestinian, Israeli
“bomblets” over a wide area but up to a quarter           or Afghani- cannot be justified on any ground
fail to explode, posing a long-term threat to             whatsoever.” The terrorist attacks in New York
civilians. US jets, including B-52s have dropped          and Washington be condemned in the most vivid
more than 600 cluster bombs on Afghanistan,               terms and similarly the mindless bombardment
the Pentagon says (Dawn Dec. 12, 2001).                   of the civilian targets in Afghanistan also needs
According to international demining expert, Dan           condemnation. Steele (Oct. 2001) a British
Kelly, (2001) an estimated 24,000 unexploded              Journalist has very beautifully described the
bomblets are lying on Afghan soil, posing a               feelings of helplessness of the Afghan people in
deadly hazard to civilians and children in                the face of massive and indiscriminate aerial
particular. “Bomblets are not like a mine that            bombardments by the US and British forces.
will probably blow off a limb or blind you –              “Few seem able to put themselves in the place of
these things will kill or burn people up,” he             the people of Kabul and Kandahar, having the
added.                                                    hellish thunder and feeling of the earthquake like
                                                          vibration of missiles and bombs exploring
CONCLUSIONS                                               around them. They are offered enduring freedom
                                                          but are having only enduring terror”.
Three days after strikes began; the US defense
secretary announced that the US had “air                  If the attacks on the American symbols of
superiority” over Afghanistan – over an air force         economic and military might in New York and
which could not even leave the ground. The                Washington were senseless and sewage, equally
question is why the bombing of the cities was             mindless has been the war against terrorism,
continuously carried on? In the earlier days of           which the Bush administration unleashed with
the operation, the front line of Taliban                  brutal fury, leaving thousands of innocent
particularly north of Kabul was spared, just to           Afghan civilians dead and homeless. Tragic
delay the entrance of the Northern Alliance into          though the enormous loss of life in New York
the capital. In the meanwhile targets close to            was (3,234 by find count); it hardly justified the
innocent civilians and civilian targets were hit          devastation of Afghanistan and the massive
by US bombers. How such bombing can be                    killing of the Afghans. In the words of David
justified? What the US was bombing? The UN                Corn (December, 2001), the Afghan civilians
mine-clearing staff, the shepherds and their              struck by US bombs are innocent victims not
families, the defenseless villages of awe-stricken        unlike those Americans killed or injured on
civilians, the Red Cross warehouses, the mosque           September 11.
full of praying Afghans, trucks full of terrified
refuges etc. Galloway (2001) a British MP                 The price in blood, for America’s war against
termed this operation as “the slaughter of the            terror, has been paid not by Britain nor by the
world’s poorest by the world’s richest”.                  US, nor even by the Taliban and al-Qaida
                                                          leaders held responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks,
                                                          but by ordinary Afghans, who had nothing
88                     A. Shah, Gomal university Journal of Research, 22: 80-89 (2006)

whatever to do with the atrocities, did not elect         created funds for the American survivors of the
the Taliban who ruled over them and had no say            Sept: 11 attacks. They must do the same for
in the decision to give house to Osama bin                Afghans.
Laden and his friends. In the words of Sardar
Asif Ahmad Ali (2002), the Ex-Foreign Minister            REFERENCES:
of Pakistan “The Afghan nation paid an
awesome price for the follies of its naive Taliban        Ali, Sardar Aseff Ahmed: (March 16, 2002) “Will
rulers. Probably 20 Afghans were pulverized for           US be weary of war?” Dawn (Daily Newspaper)
every American life lost on September 11, in              Karachi.
this unequal commerce of death, submissive
                                                          American Red Cross:        “Geneva Conventions.”
partner”.                                                 Available at;

After going through the above study one comes             Amnesty International Memorandum to the US
to the conclusion that US led forces had grossly          Government – April 15, 2002. Available at;
violated all relevant provisions of the         
International Humanitarian Law particularly
Geneva Convention IV in the Operation                     ANSWER* Coalition: “US violates Geneva
Enduring       Freedom.      “Suddenly       after        Conventions:” Feb. 6, 2002. Available at
11September, we went mad. We bombed              (*. ANSWER stand for:
                                                          Act Now to Stop War and End Racism.)
Afghan villages into rubble, along with their
inhabitants” said an American journalist –                Bearak, Barry: ( February 10, 2002) New York
Robert Fisk-(November 29, 2001). He                       Times. Available at,
continued, “When people with yellow or black
or brown skin, with Communist or Islamic or               Campbell, Kurt. M: (2002) “Globalization First
Nationalist credentials, murder their prisoners or        War?” Washington Quarterly Winter Vol.25 No.1
carpet bomb villages to kill their enemies or set         (USA).
death squad courts, they must be condemned by
the US, the European Union, the United Nations            Convention (IV) Protection of Civilian Persons in
and the “civilized” world. We are masters of              Time of War, Geneva, 12 August, 1949 (Full Text).
                                                          Available at:
Human Rights, the Liberals, the great and good
                                                          Corn, David: (Dec: 23, 2001) “To Make Amends for
who can preach to the impoverished masses. But            Errant         Bombs:”         Available       at:
when our people are murdered – then we tear up  
every piece of human rights legislation, sendoff
the B-52s in the direction of the impoverished            DAWN (Daily Newspaper) Karachi: November 14,
masses and set out to murder our enemies.” The            17, 21, 2001; December 3, 4, 12, 21, 22 2001.
more appropriate word would be “the self
declared enemy” without any proof and giving              Editorials of DAWN , (Daily Newspaper) Karachi:
no opportunity to diplomatic measure or                   Travesty of Justice – Nov: 17, 2001.
peaceful resolution of the dispute through the
                                                          The Year that Changed the World – Dec: 31, 2001.
United Nations.
                                                          Editorials of The NEWS, (Daily Newspaper)
If the whole world’s remorse and regrets could            Islamabad:
not lessen Americans’ pain at the loss of
innocent lives in New York and Washington, the            Destroying the ruins – Oct: 12, 2001.
regrets of US officials can certainly not diminish        Counting the Losses – Oct: 15, 2001.
the pain of the Afghans. So the United States             Stop killing Civilians – Oct: 25, 2001.
ought to establish a fund that specifically makes
payments to Afghan civilians whose families,              Fisk, Robert: (Nov: 29, 2001) “Why Bomb this
bodies, homes or business have been shattered             Starving People?” - Dawn (Daily Newspaper)
by US air strikes. It is the only available means
to redress injury. American has generously
                         A. Shah, Gomal university Journal of Research, 22: 80-89 (2006)                      89

Golloway, George: (Oct: 22, 2001) “We Will Not be           “Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of
Silenced” – The News, (Daily Newspaper)                     12 Aug: 1949 and relating to the Protections of
Islamabad.                                                  Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol-I)
                                                            8th June, 1977.” Available at:
Human Rights Watch Reports: Afghanistan: New
Civilians Deaths Due to US Bombing: Quetta,                 Rady, Faiza; (January 2002) “And What About
Pakistan, Oct. 30, 2001.                                    Geneva Conventions?” Al-Ahram Weekly, (17 – 23
                                                            Jan.) Cairo (Egypt).
Afghanistan: Three Afghan Commanders should be
prosecuted, New York Dec: 3.2001. Available at:             Sidhu, W Pal S: (Dec. 14, 2001) “Principles of a Just                                                 War” – The News Islamabad.
                                                            Steele, Jonathan: (Oct. 18, 2001) “A Shameful
Hingorani, R.C: (1995) (i) Humanitarian Law: and
(ii) Protection of Children During Armed Conflict; in       Silence as the Bombs Drop” – The News, Islamabad.
R.C. Hingorani’s (Ed) Humanitarian Law, New                 Taylor, Richard Norton: (Dec. 22, 2001) “Move to
Delhi, Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd.                Ban cluster Bombs” – Dawn Karachi.
“International Humanitarian Law:” Available at:                                                “Universal Community of Friends” (a Pennsylvania
                                                            nonprofit     organization}       available      at
Jakovljevic, Bosko: (1995) The Red Cross and      
Human Rights: in         R.C. Hingorani’s (Ed)              Walt, Stephen M: (2002) “Beyond Bin Laden:”
Humanitarian Law, New Delhi, Oxford & IBH                   International Security, Winter (2001 – 02) Vol. 26
Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd.                                    No.3 (USA).

Khan, Muhammad Ejaz: (Dec. 10, 2001) “Afghan                Yusufzai, Rahimullah: (2001): “Warplanes Now
Children, Women real Victims of US, Allies’                 Targeting Civilians” – The News, Dec. 12, 2001,
Attacks” – The News, Islamabad.                             Islamabad.

Loeb, Vernon: (March 28, 2002) “Afghan War a Lab            “Tora Bora Attackers Lack Spirit – The News Dec.
for US Innovation” – Dawn, Karachi.                         14, 2001, Islamabad.
Miline,Seumas: (2001):

“A Hollow Victory in Afghanistan” – Dawn Nov.
24, 2001 Karachi “Innocent Deaths in Coward’s
War” – Dawn Dec.21, 2001. Karachi.

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