Afghanistan's former finance minister 'now an Uber driver' in the US

Afghanistan's former finance minister 'now an Uber driver' in the US
Khalid Payenda was the finance minister in the last democratically elected government in Kabul before the Taliban swept into power in August 2021.
2 min read
21 March, 2022
Khalid Payenda was in charge of Afghanistan's 6-billion-dollar budget till less than a year ago [Getty]

Former Afghanistan Finance Minister Khalid Payenda is now an Uber driver in Washington DC, according to comments he made to the Washington Post on Friday.

Payenda, who fled his home in August 2021, has resorted to working for the ride-hailing company to support his family after they moved to the US.

Once in charge of a $6 bn US dollar budget less than a year ago, Payenda now earns around $150 US dollars for six hours of work a day, according to the Post.

Payenda was a minister in Prime Minister Ashraf Ghani's cabinet - the last elected government in Kabul before the Taliban swept to power in August 2021.

He resigned from his position just weeks before the Taliban took control of capital, citing "differences" with Ghani, and fled to the United States as he feared arrest on trumped-up charges, he told the Post.

Ghani's government was elected to bring some stability and prosperity to the country but was accused of widespread corruption, like the administrations that preceded it.

Payenda blamed both the United States, his people, and successive governments in Kabul for Afghanistan’s plight.

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"We had 20 years and the whole world's support to build a system that would work for the people. We miserably failed," he said to a World Bank official following the Taliban's capture of Kabul, according to 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. Some of us in the government chose to steal even when we had a slim, last chance. We betrayed our people."

Rights groups have warned that Afghanistan was on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe, with more than half the country facing food insecurity.