- (Photo: Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay)
Representatives from over 100 countries and organizations gathered in Bonn, Germany to discuss the future of Afghanistan and pledge their continued support.
This is the second conference on Afghanistan. Tthe first was held in 2001 after the fall of the Taliban regime. Leaders gathered to assess the situation and plan.
Now, 10 years later, representatives are back in Bonn to reassess Afghan’s situation and plan. More than 1,000 delegates gathered for the meeting, but noticeably absent was Pakistan, Afghan’s neighbor.
Pakistan said it would not be a part of the talks because it is protesting the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. On Nov. 26, NATO forces killed 24 Pakistani troops in what the United States maintains was an accident. Pakistan, infuriated by the attack, refused to participate in any of the peace talks in Bonn.
“The people of Afghanistan are looking to this conference for clear affirmation of commitment to make security transition and economic progress irreversible,” said Afghanistan President Karzai while opening the conference.
In the years following the Taliban’s fall, Afghanistan sought to become more democratic and has made progress in providing opportunities for all people. There are still many problems and injustices, though, especially for young girls and women.
Karzai recently took action on behalf of a young woman imprisoned for the crime of adultery, though she was raped by a relative. After the world learned of her story, and amid much pressure from the media, Karzai offered her full pardon and ordered the Justice Ministry reexamine the cases of all women imprisoned on morals charges.
United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered full support for Afghan’s efforts.
“The United States is prepared to stand with the Afghan people for the long haul. [There is] much to lose if the country again becomes a source of terrorism and instability,” said Clinton.
Al-Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan were responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, leading to U.S. involvement and war. The U.S., along with NATO allies, continues to be a presence in the country and ensure its stability.
Now, with troops preparing to leave Afghanistan, there is fear that the Taliban and al-Qaida forces could move back to the country and seek power.
“We will need your steadfast support for at least another decade,” said President Karzai.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle offered his support for the country but noted: “The road ahead will remain stony and difficult. It will require endurance and tenacity.”