Last August, Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan president, was “welcomed” to the UAE. He allegedly took $169 million from his country’s coffers.
The former Ghani finance minister is now an Uber driver in Washington DC. “I get a $95 incentive if I complete 50 trips in two days,” Khalid Payenda told the Washington Post.
The 40-year-old Khalid Payenda once managed a $6 billion budget. This week, he made “a little over $150 for six hours of labour, not counting transportation” according to The Post.
Payenda told a passenger in Washington that moving from Kabul had been “quite an adjustment”.
“Right now, I don’t have any place,” he remarked, happy for the opportunity to support his family. I don’t belong here or there. It leaves a void.”
Afghanistan is in a humanitarian and economic catastrophe, with assets blocked and foreign aid cut off, unless the Taliban administration replaces the US-backed state.
At late 2020, Payenda’s mother died of Covid-19 in a Kabul hospital, the Post reported. Then he became finance minister. The Post stated he now regrets it.
“I saw ugliness, and we failed.” “I was a failure. It’s difficult when you see people’s sorrow and feel responsible.”
Payenda told that he believed Afghans lacked the “collective resolve to reform”. But he argued the US violated democracy and human rights by focusing post-9/11 policies on Afghanistan.
Although initially excellent intentions, Payenda believes the United States did not mean this.
A week before the Taliban took Kabul, Payenda quit as finance minister over tensions with Ghani. Fearing imprisonment by the president, he fled to America to join his family.