3. What's at stake?
The main fear among the Afghan people is that the country could revert to another civil war once the United States withdraws its combat troops. The Taliban are still "resilient and determined," according to a recent Pentagon report, and insurgents continue to carry out attacks and pose a major security threat.
"Some people we've spoken to sort of take it for granted that there's going to be a civil war when the United States leaves," said CNN's Erin Burnett on a recent trip to Afghanistan. "It happened before when the Soviet Union left (in 1989)."
For all the violence Afghanistan has seen in the past decade, it has also seen major advancements in human rights and quality of life.
"During the Taliban, basically there were thousands of girls going to school in Afghanistan. Now you have millions of girls going to school," Burnett said. "So there's been real progress on women's rights. Obviously there remain a lot of problems -- honor killings, forced marriages, domestic violence -- but there has been real progress."
Retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, once America's top commander in Afghanistan, said the Afghan people are "terrified."
"They're terrified because they think they have something to lose," McChrystal said. "There has been progress made. There is a better life. There are girls in school. There are things that are better than they were and opportunities potentially ahead.
"But they're afraid that if we completely abandon them in 2014, as they perceive we did in 1989, (things) would all go back."
And in Washington, there are worries that the wrong move could put the United States right back where it started, with nothing to show for a bloody conflict that started in 2001.
Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Buck McKeon, R-California, expressed concern last week that a hasty withdrawal could be "needlessly fraught with risk."
"Since the president took the commendable step of deploying a surge to Afghanistan in 2009, we have known that our hard-fought gains are fragile and reversible," McKeon said. "That isn't my assessment, but the consistent opinion of experts both military and civilian."
4. Who will lead after Karzai?
Afghanistan's only president of this century won't be in charge for much longer.
Elections are scheduled for April 2014, and Karzai has reached the term limit set by his country's constitution. He told Amanpour it's "absolutely time to go."
"A new president will come to this country. A new government will come to this country. And I'll be a happily retired civil servant," he said.
So while Afghanistan oversees a major military transition, it also will have to make a political transition.
Who will lead the country during this critical moment in its history? Will the vote go smoothly, without violence and without controversy? There were reports of ballot tampering and other violations in the last one.
The answers might be just as important to Afghanistan's security as the readiness of its troops.
"The single biggest challenge for us is the political transition, the elections of 2014," said Saad Mohseni, the media mogul behind Afghanistan's Tolo Television. "(If) we have credible elections, I think we'll be OK for the next five, six years. (If) we don't, there is a real danger that we'll see instability, especially in 2014 as the U.S. troops withdraw."
5. What part will the Taliban play?
Despite the ongoing insurgency, Karzai seems eager to resume stalled peace talks with the Taliban and include them in the political process.
The Taliban pulled out of talks last year, but Karzai said last month they "are very much conveying to us that they want to have peace talks. They're also people. They're also families. They also suffer, like the rest of Afghans are suffering."
Javid Ahmad, a Kabul native now with the Asia Program of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, believes revitalized peace talks are essential to Afghanistan's future and to the legacy of America's war.
"If withdrawing responsibly in 2014 is indeed high on President Obama's agenda, then he has little choice but to prioritize and accelerate the peace talks, negotiate a cease-fire between all sides, and reach a settlement that ensures that the Taliban lay down their weapons," Ahmad wrote in a recent column.
But will the Taliban be willing to cooperate? And if they enter negotiations, how much of an influence would they have on an Afghan society that has seen so many changes in the past decade?