Asia

Afghans wary as Bonn talks open

Image caption Security remains a concern for millions of Afghans

A conference in the German city of Bonn is taking stock of Afghanistan's progress over the past 10 years and drawing up a roadmap for the future.

But while Afghanistan has travelled a long distance in that time, it is still a long way from peace and security, says the BBC's Kabul reporter, Bilal Sarwary.

Senior aides of President Hamid Karzai stress the huge strides towards progress and development that have been made over the past decade.

Many Afghans have access to mobile phones. Nearly 2,000km (1,200 miles) of roads have been built. And millions of girls - as well as boys - are now attending school.

All that was unthinkable during the Taliban regime, presidential aides point out. The Bonn conference, they say, should take stock of the past 10 years to see what went right and what went wrong.

Violence still rife

Delegates from Afghanistan say they will be pitching for continued assistance from the developed world in building a modern and peaceful country.

They want help to continue building the Afghan security forces, economy and political institutions.

One of the biggest changes has been the profile of Afghan women. A decade ago, they had a near-zero role in administration. Now, they constitute nearly 28% of the parliament. But discrimination and violence are still rife.

One Western diplomat, who did not want to be named, said they would be asking the Afghan government for reassurances to prevent a repeat of a recent case in which a 21-year-old girl was imprisoned for adultery after she was raped by a relative.

Afghan officials, however, do admit that the Karzai government faces many challenges.

For millions of Afghans, security remains a concern - even in the capital Kabul. It is non-existent in many remote rural areas. When international forces draw down in 2014, there is concern that the government will not be able to find the $7bn (£4.47bn) it needs to maintain the country's security forces.

The recent assassination of former President Burhanuddin Rabbani paralysed peace talks between the government and the Taliban at their earliest stage.

Those in power in Afghanistan hope the Bonn conference will not ignore these challenges when it draws the roadmap for the country.

"Afghanistan is as fragile as a glass bowl," one aide told me. "If the bowl breaks, everyone will pay for it."