Afghan President Hamid Karzai says Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar can run for the upcoming presidential elections. In an interview published on Tuesday by the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Karzai said that the Taliban chief could run in the presidential elections, scheduled for early April next year, The Associated Press reported.
"He can become a candidate for the presidency and give Afghans the opportunity to vote for or against him," Karzai said, noting that the Afghan constitution is valid for all Afghans and "the Taliban also should benefit from it."The comments by the Afghan president came only days after his return from a two-day state visit to Qatar, where he held discussions with the Qatari leaders on the possible opening of a Taliban office in the Persian Gulf state for peace negotiations. Mullah Omar has been in hiding since the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan. In January 2012, Pakistani media reported that the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) removed the Taliban chief’s name from the list of "most wanted terrorists." Washington removed Mullah Omar's name despite allegations that the Taliban and Osama bin Laden were behind the September, 11 attacks in the US. The United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 under the pretext of fighting terrorism. The invasion removed the Taliban from power, but the country remains insecure despite the presence of tens of thousands of US-led forces there. MN/AS