Afghanistan's last finance minister Khalid Payenda now drives Uber in US

Published on Mar 20, 2022 12:31 PM IST
Khalid Payenda who co-founded Afghanistan's first private university now drives an Uber cab in Washington as all his savings have been spent. And his teaching job at Georgetown University pays $2,000 per semester.
Khalid Payenda is active on Twitter and is still searching an answer to what had caused the massive corruption that had destroyed the Afghan state. 
Khalid Payenda is active on Twitter and is still searching an answer to what had caused the massive corruption that had destroyed the Afghan state. 
By | Written by Poulomi Ghosh

Khalid Payenda who resigned as the finance minister days before Kabul fell to the Taliban now drives Uber cab in and around Washington, apart from working as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University where he gets $2,000 per semester. In an interview with the Washington Post, the last finance minister of the Ashraf Ghani government said he is grateful for the gigs that he has found as it helps him to provide for his family of wife and four children.

Recalling the last few days of his ministership, Payenda told Washington Post he had resigned as the finance minister when Ashraf Ghani pulled him up at a public meeting for his ministry's failure to make a payment to a Lebanese company. Seeing Ghani's rage, Payenda feared that he might have arrested him on false charges. As he narrates how he landed in the US from then strife-torn Kabul, he said he quickly left the country and arrived in the US. His family members had left for the US a week before.

“Right now, I don’t have any place,” he said. “I don’t belong here, and I don’t belong there. It’s a very empty feeling," Khalid said.

According to the former minister, nobody is above blame. Not even he himself. While the US abandoned Afghans, Afghanistan did not have the collective will to reform, he said.

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 interview.

In the following few days, Payenda's former fellow ministers created a WhatsApp group where the anger was directed towards those who have fled the country. Payenda said he distanced himself from the mudslinging as he saw no point.

This is not the first time that Khalid Payenda has left his homeland. In 1992, when he was just 11, his family moved to Pakistan as the civil war began in Afghanistan. "A decade later, after the Americans toppled the Taliban, he returned to co-found Afghanistan’s first private university," the report said.

He had worked for the US Agency for International Development and the World Bank, and in 2008 he came to the United States for the first time, attending the University of Illinois on a Fulbright scholarship. In 2006, he became the deputy finance minister and in 2019, he relocated to the United States temporarily. In 2020, he returned to Kabul to work on a short-term project for Ghani when he was offered the post of finance minister. His family was against the proposal and Payenda now regrets his decision.

Months before the fall of Kabul, the former minister said, he had made a visit to an illegal customs post outside Kandahar. When he questioned the police officers who were running the operations netting millions of dollars per day, he was held at the gunpoint, the video of which is still there on the minister's cellphone.

"What had caused the massive corruption that had destroyed the Afghan state? Selfishness? Afghan bureaucratic incompetence? A US strategy that empowered warlords who were good at killing Taliban, no matter their ruthlessness or how much they stole?" the former minister said he carries these questions as he takes classes in Georgetown University.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • In this August 9, 1945 file photo, a mushroom cloud rises moments after the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, southern Japan.

    77 years for Atomic Bombing- Nagasaki marks anniversary

    Nagasaki paid tribute to the victims of the US atomic bombing 77 years ago on Aug 9, with the mayor saying Russia's war on Ukraine showed the world that another nuclear attack is not just a worry but "a tangible and present crisis". Read Reducing the risk of a nuclear war The United States dropped the world's first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug 6, 1945, destroying the city and killing 140,000 people.

  • Yuan Wang 5 vessel is used by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). (File image)

    SL reaffirms excellent relations with China post deferring visit by Chinese ship

    Sri Lanka on Tuesday said its “excellent relations” with China remain on a solid foundation even as it explained that it had deferred a proposal for a Chinese research vessel to call at Hambantota port because of the need for further consultations. The vessel, equipped with powerful radars and surveillance equipment, was earlier scheduled to call at Hambantota port, which is controlled by China, on August 11 for replenishment.

  • File photo of mass testing for coronavirus.

    Chinese cities in Tibet begin mass Covid testing as clusters grow in Hainan

    Parts of Tibet are running mass COVID-19 testing on Tuesday, including the Chinese autonomous region's two largest cities, to fight a rare flare-up, while clusters were growing in tropical Hainan and in Xinjiang in China's west. Subvariants of the highly transmissible Omicron are challenging China's strategy of swiftly blocking the spread of each nascent cluster. Mainland China reported 828 new domestically transmitted cases for Aug. 8, official data showed on Tuesday.

  • A Chinese military jet flies over Pingtan island, one of mainland China's closest points to Taiwan, in Fujian province on Saturday. 

    Beijing using Pelosi as an excuse for war games, says Taiwan

    China used the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei as a pretext to hold war games in the region that helped prepare it for a possible invasion of the island, Taiwan's foreign minister said, adding Beijing had been planning the move for some time. Taiwan responded by deploying aircraft and vessels, issuing radio warnings and deploying land-based missile systems to monitor the activities.

  • Biden administration to allow new injection method for monkeypox vaccine: Report (PIC FOR REPRESENTATION)

    Biden administration to allow new injection method for monkeypox vaccine: Report

    The Biden administration has decided to stretch out its limited supply of monkeypox vaccine by allowing a different method of injection that uses one-fifth as much per shot, the New York Times reported on Monday, citing senior officials familiar with the planning. The United States declared monkeypox a public health emergency last week, in an effort to bolster the U.S. response to contain the outbreak. Also read: Monkeypox now a health emergency in US.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Tuesday, August 09, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now