After 10 years of foreign military presence, the future of Afghanistan looks gloomy, with a weak and struggling government accused of corruption and an increase in violent insurgency as the promised withdrawal in 2014 looms.
U.S. troops invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 after Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, refused to hand over al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden. The Taliban regime was quickly ousted and the new Karzai government backed by the U.S. and NATO.
Much effort has been expended over the decade to help train the government forces, but the country is still fractured and divided and the presence of foreign troops has given militants the pretext of resisting imperialism as they target Afghan civilians and NATO soldiers.
Since the announcement that foreign troops would fully withdraw in 2014, insurgents have clearly stepped up their violent attacks, successfully targeting government officials or governments allies, warning the population that government supporters will be the targets of choice.
NATO killings of civilians, along with years of living under constant threat, have also damaged the image of both the government and the foreign troops, with civilians wondering whether the invasion of their country was worth it.
Western officials, however, are less inclined to describe the Afghan campaign as a failure and many maintain the country will be a viable state by 2015.
Few, however, explain how they expect the war-torn Afghanistan we still see today to turn itself around in the space of just three years, especially with no end in sight to the Taliban's renewed violent activities.
According to the Agency Co-ordinating Body for Afghan Relief about $57 billion (£37 bilion) of aid has been disbursed over the past decade and while progress have been made in certain areas, spending has not always translated into real improvements for many Afghans and figures offered by the government are often misleading.
While data from the Public Health Ministry say that now 80 per cent of Afghans have access to health services, compared to just 9 per cent in 2001, other reports show the clinics are often closed and lack medical material, medicines or staff.
The same can be said of schools, with many lacking staff, textbooks, and often being forced to operate in poor facilities.
To add the country's problems, it has also been hit by the worst drought in a decade, with the World Food Programme saying it expects that 2.6 million people will need aid.
Rights group Amnesty International has earlier this year praised the advances made in area such as human rights laws, the availability of education and health services and reduced discrimination against women, but warned there is still much work to do in fields such as justice and policing, security and displacement.
"The Afghan government and its partners can't continue to justify their poor performance by saying that things are better than during the 1990s," said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty's Asia Pacific director.
Both the Afghan government and NATO and U.S. officials still insist the country is better off than 10 years ago, if not as much as promised. Perhaps the most disturbing thing in the case of Afghanistan is that the alliance and the U.S. government have kept on sponsoring a government which has continually been accused of corruption, nepotism and clientelism, proving yet another example that Western democracy cannot just be exported to a different part of the world by using military force.