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Pakistan’s Defense Minister Is Wrong, Blocking NATO Supplies Does Not Violate International Law

Posted by yourpakistan on May 14, 2012

Pro-US Zardari government’s defense minister is a manufacturer of a famous shoe brand. He should acquaint himself with NATO, ISAF mandate in Afghanistan, says the national security adviser to Pakistan’s fastest rising political party. 


I contradict Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar’s statement in which he states that non-restoration of NATO supply lines is a violation of international law and international conventions. This assertion is absolutely incorrect and the Defense Minister needs to educate himself on international law.

Under international conventions, dealing with land locked states and their right to transit goods through neighboring countries with access to the sea Afghanistan has the right of transit for goods destined for that country, through Pakistan. Pakistan has neither contravened this law nor the bilateral transit trade agreement it has signed with Afghanistan. These laws and principles relate to peaceful trade. They do not relate to the transit of war materials.

Furthermore, on the question of NATO supplies, the state of Afghanistan can request use of transit access through Pakistan for these supplies, a request that Pakistan could consider.

But Afghanistan has not made such a request. NATO wants this transit route restored but it has no locus standi as an entity on this legal question. Equally pertinent, even if Afghanistan was to make a request for transit of NATO supplies through Pakistan and into Afghanistan, Pakistan would be in its legal rights not to grant this permission on grounds that the war material would also be used against it, as happened in the Salala attack. 

The United Nations Security Council resolutions on ISAF which require broad cooperation from UN member states also do not apply to NATO. All UNSC resolutions on Afghanistan so far only refer to an ISAF mandate not NATO. Of course, at the end of the day there is no international law that makes it incumbent upon a state to allow transport of military supplies to a third country from where the same can be used –and have been used in the past– against the state granting such transit rights.

It is dangerous to have an ill-informed Defense Minister who chooses to make statements without being properly briefed.

 Dr. Mazari, the former director of Islamabad Institute for Strategic Studies, is the Central Vice President for foreign & security policy at Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf political party. She can be reached at This article is based on a press release by Dr. Mazari on behalf of PTI.


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