Washington: Afghanistan’s former finance minister Khalid Payenda, who once oversaw a $6 billion budget, has become a Uber driver in Washington to support his family.
According to The Washington Post, Khalid Payenda had resigned as finance minister a week before the Taliban seized Kabul, when then-President Ashraf Ghani lashed out at him in a public meeting and then privately upbraided him over the ministry’s failure to make a relatively small payment to a Lebanese company.
Since reaching Washington, the 40-year-old has been feeing “trapped between his old life and dreams for Afghanistan and a new life in the United States that he had never really wanted”.
Khalid Payenda got to know about Kabul’s fall from television and then on Twitter. “All we built was a house of cards that came down crashing this fast. A house of cards built on the foundation of corruption. Some of us in the government chose to steal even when we had a slim, last chance. We betrayed our people,” the former minister said in the The Washington Post interview.
He said, “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.”
When asked about the ex-finance minister of Afghanistan’s daily earnings, he said a night earlier this week, he made “a little over $150 for six hours’ work, not counting his commute a mediocre night”.
Payenda told a passenger that his move from Kabul to Washington had been “quite an adjustment”.
“I feel incredibly grateful for it. It means I don’t have to be desperate,” he said.
The former minister further said that among those responsible for the fall of Afghanistan to Taliban are the Americans who had touted their mission to be of upholding democracy and human rights in the country.
(With UNi inputs)