NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen has called on the Afghangovernment to ensure free and fair presidential elections in 2014after reports of fraud marred the 2009 poll.The credibility of the vote is seen as crucial to avoid anescalation of violence as NATO combat troops withdraw next yearleaving Afghan soldiers and police to tackle the Talibaninsurgency.The Taliban has hinted it may form a political party and contestthe presidential election. By all accounts it has a solid chance ofwinning.According to data from the Carnegie Endowment most of theregions in the country are either poised for a Taliban comeback, orhave areas already under their control.Former Afghan MP and political analyst Daoud Sultanzoy believesit is time the Taliban show their true face, and present a newagenda to the Afghan people.RT: You know the fragmented political landscape ofAfghanistan. What do you make of the Taliban’s chances?DS: It’s a very interesting situation. It’s notAfghanistan of the 1990s – a lot has changed. But at the same timethe western world plundered their chances and we did the same. Sopeople are confused. They are not fully supporting the Talibanagenda they were proposing earlier. It’s now up to the Taliban toshow their real face, not the face that is pushed by the Britishand Pakistani intelligence. […] I hope now they will show theirtrue face and their true agenda. RT: What do you think is the Taliban’s true face now?Running a country is different to running an insurgency. TheTaliban has lost many of its leaders since it last ruled. Can itstill govern do you think?DS: You know, every paramilitary group looks larger whenthey are on the battlefield fighting a guerilla war. When they cometo the political front the proof is there. These people have topresent an agenda to the people of Afghanistan and present a team.The old Taliban and the old agenda will not be acceptable to theAfghan people. RT: America and its allies have spent more than adecade trying to remove the Taliban. Could they afford now to allowthe Taliban a chance to retake power, legitimately orotherwise?DS: I think the West is confused. They are looking for avery speedy exit. I’m afraid they will do whatever is possible andconvenient to put up a very tenuous formula and a very temporaryfix and then leave. Then things will go back to where it started.That’s the problem. The region has to realize that we have to findsustainable fixes for this problem, not temporary face-savingthings for NATO to go away and leave a big problem for Afghanistanand its neighbors.RT: If the Taliban were to come back into a leadershiprole in the country, do you think they would be imposing the kindof dictatorship that was there before the US invasion or do youthink it would actually have a legitimate role to play in some kindof a democracy?DS: This is the biggest question now. When I said thetrue face that was what I meant. They have to come and spell outtheir agenda. So far it’s been the old system – they want to createan imarat in Afghanistan not the Republic of Afghanistan. So farthey haven’t changed their tone. Unless they do it the people ofAfghanistan would not be supporting the Taliban that want toreverse things back to the Stone Age. We cannot afford that.Afghanistan has to live in this world, in this neighborhood.Afghanistan is an Islamic country and the Taliban cannot make usbetter Muslims than we are. RT: Could an elected Taliban save face for the West’sbattered military?DS: This is what worries the people in Afghanistan. Maybethe West wants to come up with a quick fix, to bring a face-savingsituation when the Taliban wins the election and then they willwash their hands and leave a mess in this region and thiscountry. RT: Many Afghans are weary of their government. Howimportant might the protest vote be?DS: In that sort of situation the Taliban, had they beensmart, would have scored big at the political front. But they don’thave a political agenda that’s why they are all sort of fumbling.But I think the Taliban can take advantage of this void and fillthis vacuum, but they have to come up with a winnable strategy toconvince the people of Afghanistan that they mean business and thatthey are prepared for the new Afghanistan, not the old one.