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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Former Afghan finance minister now works as an Uber driver in the United States

Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan president, was “welcomed” to the United Arab Emirates only days before his country was overrun by the Taliban in August. He was accused of taking with him $169 million from the treasury of his own nation.

Now, six months after leaving the government of President Ashraf Ghani, Khalid Payenda is driving an Uber in Washington DC.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Payenda said that he would get a $95 incentive if he completed 50 trips in the following two days. Payenda is driving a Honda Accord.

The 40-year-old was formerly in charge of a $6 billion budget that was backed by the United States. According to the Washington Post, he earned “a little over $150 for six hours’ labour, not including his travel – a poor night” during one of his shifts earlier this week.

Payenda was overheard by a passenger on the Post saying that his relocation from Kabul to Washington had been “quite an adjustment.”

He also expressed gratitude for the chance to be able to provide for his family, but said that he did not have a place to live at the time. Neither here nor there do I belong, and neither do they. A profoundly void sense pervades me.”

Afghanistan is in the midst of a humanitarian and economic catastrophe, with assets frozen and the country shut off from international assistance, which would necessitate the recognition of the Taliban administration, which has taken over for the US-backed Government.

Paidenda’s tragedy in late 2020, when his mother died of Covid-19 in an underfunded Kabul hospital, was detailed in The Washington Post. Following that, he was appointed to the position of finance minister. According to the Post, he now wishes he had not.

“I don’t think the Afghan people have the collective desire to change, to be serious,” Payenda told The Washington Post. However, he said that the United States had violated its commitment to democracy and human rights by making Afghanistan the focal point of its post-9/11 foreign strategy.

It’s possible that there were genuine intentions at the outset, but Payenda believes that the United States didn’t mean what they claimed.

Payenda resigned from his position as finance minister a week before the Taliban captured Kabul, citing a deterioration in his relationship with Ghani. Due to concerns that the president might order his arrest, he fled to the United States, where he reunited his family.

“We had 20 years and the assistance of the whole world to put in place a system that would work for the people,” Payenda wrote in a text message to a World Bank official in Kabul on the day the capital was overthrown, according to the Washington Post.

We had nothing but a house of cards that came falling down in such a short period of time. In other words, a house of cards constructed on the basis of graft.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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