Former Afghan Finance Minister Khalid Payenda, who fled the country shortly before the Taliban took control in August last year, now, works as an Uber driver in Washington, The Post revealed.
Until last summer, Khalid Payenda was Afghanistan’s finance minister, overseeing a $6 billion budget. Now, seven months after Kabul had fallen to the Taliban, he’s driving an Uber in D.C. to support his family. (via @GregJaffe for @washingtonpost) https://t.co/Yo5G8ldc4d
— Apple News (@AppleNews) March 20, 2022
According to The Washington Post:
Khalid Payenda was Afghanistan’s finance minister, overseeing a $6 billion budget — the lifeblood of a government fighting for its survival in a war that had long been at the center of U.S. foreign policy.
Now, seven months after Kabul had fallen to the Taliban, he was at the wheel of his Honda Accord, headed north on Interstate 95 from his home in Woodbridge, Va., toward Washington, D.C. Payenda swiped at his phone and opened the Uber app, which offered his “quest” for the weekend. For now his success was measured in hundreds of dollars rather than billions.
“If I complete 50 trips in the next two days, I receive a $95 bonus,” he said as he navigated the light Friday-night traffic.
The 40-year-old once oversaw a US-supported $6 billion budget, earlier this week, he made “a little over $150 for six hours’ work, not counting his commute – a mediocre night, the Post reported.
Payenda resigned as Finance Minister a week before the Taliban took control of Kabul, citing a deterioration in his relationship with former President Asraf Ghani.
Fearing that he might be detained by the President, he fled to the United States, where he reunited with his family.
“He was angry and all over the place,” Payenda said, referring to the former president. He worried he had lost Ghani’s trust, so much so he could even be arrested on false charges, so he quickly hopped aboard a plane to the U.S., where his wife and kids were waiting for him. Shortly after, the government fell.
“We had 20 years and the whole world’s support to build a system that would work for the people,” Payenda said in a text message to a World Bank official in Kabul on the day the capital fell, quoted by the Post.
“All we built was a house of cards that came down crashing this fast. A house of cards built on the foundation of corruption.”
He also said he was grateful for the opportunity to be able to support his family but, “right now, I don’t have any place. I don’t belong here and I don’t belong there. It’s a very empty feeling”.
“I saw a lot of ugliness, and we failed,” he said. “I was part of the failure. It’s difficult when you look at the misery of the people and you feel responsible.”
Payenda told the Post he believed Afghans “didn’t have the collective will to reform, to be serious”.