MAZAR-E SHARIF – Nato’s chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged the Afghan government on Friday to strive for free, fair and transparent elections in the 2014 presidential poll, saying they marked a critical juncture in the country’s quest for peace. His words came a day after President Hamid Karzai suggested foreign members be removed from the election watchdog, in a step that could be seen as bolstering his grip on power. “I think it is essential for building trust and confidence between the Afghan people and the Afghan government that the presidential elections take place in a manner that is free, fair and transparent,” Rasmussen said in an interview with Reuters on the airstrip at Camp Marmal, a sprawling military base near Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan.