“Taliban could run for Afghan president: poll chief”

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SHAH MARAI / AFP / Getty Images

Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission President Fazil Ahmad Manawi

Every once in awhile you stumble across a headline that you have to read twice, to be sure you weren’t mistaken the first time.

That’s true of this Agence France-Presse hed circulating around the Pentagon Thursday morning.

The Paris-based wire service reports from Kabul that Afghanistan’s top elections official spoke Wednesday about the country’s next presidential election, slated for Apr. 5, 2014. Incumbent president Hamid Karzai is barred from seeking another term.

“We are even prepared to pave the ground for the armed opposition, be it the Taliban or Hezb-i-Islami, to participate in the election, either as voters or candidates,” [Fazil Ahmad] Manaw told a news conference. “There will be no discrimination.

The U.S. invaded Afghanistan, 11 years ago last month, explicitly to remove the Taliban from power. The fundamentalist Islamic regime had sheltered Osama bibn Laden and his al Qaeda organization as it plotted the attacks it launched against the U.S. on September 11, 2001.

A total of 2,053 Americans have been killed in the Afghan war, according to the latest toll posted on

There’s scant chance of the Taliban returning to power in a fair and free election in April 2014. Then again, there’s a scant chance of a fair and free election in Afghanistan in 17 months either.