Afghanistan’s Ex-Finance Minister is Now a Taxi Driver in Washington

Afghanistan’s former Finance Minister Khalid Payenda, once who oversaw a US-supported $6b budget, is now driving an Uber in Washington DC as the collapse of the Western-backed Afghan government in mid-August resulted in a mass exodus of Afghans.

Payenda,40, resigned as finance minister a week before the Taliban seized Kabul after his relationship with Ashraf Ghani, former Afghan President who fled Afghanistan, deteriorated.

Speaking about his daily earnings, Payenda told the Washington Post that one night earlier this week, he made “a little over $150 for six hours’ work, not counting his commute a mediocre night”.

After coming to the US, Payenda was reunited with his family. The Washington Post quoted Payenda telling one passenger his move from Kabul to Washington had been “quite an adjustment”.

Payenda is also working as an adjunct professor at the Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University.

“I saw a lot of ugliness, and we failed. I was part of the failure. It’s difficult when you look at the misery of the people and you feel responsible,” Payenda added.

Payenda also criticized the US for leaving Afghanistan, saying that the US had betrayed its commitment to democracy and human rights after making Afghanistan a centerpiece of post-9/11 policy. “Maybe there were good intentions initially but the US probably didn’t mean this,” Payenda said.

“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 Washout 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,” Payenda added.

Payenda also blamed the Americans for handing the country to the Taliban and betraying the enduring values that supposedly had animated their fight.


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