General

Former Afghan finance minister now D.C. Uber driver – The Week

Previously, he handled $6 billion budgets. But now, having left his home just before its government fell to the Taliban, Afghanistan’s former finance minister Khalid Payenda is working as an Uber driver in Washington, D.C., The Washington Post reports.

He’s not complaining about the new gig, however.

“I feel incredibly grateful for it,” he told the Post. “It means I don’t have to be desperate.” The job has enabled Payenda, 40, to provide for his wife and four children after depleting what he had left in his savings.

“If I complete 50 trips in the next two days, I receive a $95 bonus,” he said.

The former official had resigned as finance minister following a dispute with then-President Ashraf Ghani, the Post reports, a week before the Taliban took control of Kabul.

“He was angry and all over the place,” Payenda said, referring to the former president. He worried he had lost Ghani’s trust, so much so he could even be arrested on false charges, so he quickly hopped aboard a plane to the U.S., where his wife and kids were waiting for him. Shortly after, the government fell.

In addition to his driving job, Payenda co-teaches a Georgetown University course about the Afghanistan war and reconstruction efforts. He said he hopes the class shifts students’ perspective on the conflict, especially since attendees could become future State Department officials or aid workers.

For now, however, “I don’t have any place,” Payenda told the Post.  “I don’t belong here, and I don’t belong there. It’s a very empty feeling.”

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