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What Happened to Afghanistan’s Leaders After the Taliban Took Over?

After the Taliban's takeover, Afghanistan's leaders faced stark fates. Some fled abroad, seeking asylum, while others were captured or went into hiding. The power shift upended lives, leaving the country's future uncertain. What does this mean for Afghanistan's governance and its people's rights? Join us as we examine the aftermath and its global impact. What could the next chapter hold?

Before Afghanistan reverted to Taliban control in August 2021, Khalid Payenda was Afghanistan’s finance minister, responsible for a $6 billion USD budget – money that the war-torn country depended on to survive. Today, Payenda drives for Uber, ferrying passengers around northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. He also co-teaches a course at Georgetown University, but that income isn't nearly enough to pay the bills. Since 2015, he and his family had split their time between Kabul and their home in the Virginia suburbs, but Payenda never imagined a future living in America.

“I only had one country, and it was Afghanistan,” he told The Washington Post in a fascinating interview conducted during one of his Uber shifts, during which he earned $150 over six hours.

From Kabul to Woodbridge:

  • The war in Afghanistan has cost thousands of lives and trillions of dollars over 20 years. When U.S. forces departed, there were two weeks of airlifts out of the country, all desperately fleeing the Taliban takeover.

  • Payenda blames his fellow Afghans for the debacle. “We didn’t have the collective will to reform, to be serious,” he said. However, he also thinks that the United States shares the blame for handing the country to the Taliban.

  • Despite his drastic change in circumstance, Payenda is thankful for his Uber job, which helps him provide for his wife and four children, aged 2 to 15, after their savings ran out. “I feel incredibly grateful for it,” said the 40-year-old. “It means I don’t have to be desperate.”

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    • After fleeing the Taliban takeover in August 2021, Afghanistan’s former finance minister Khalid Payenda is now an Uber driver in Washington, D.C.
      By: New America
      After fleeing the Taliban takeover in August 2021, Afghanistan’s former finance minister Khalid Payenda is now an Uber driver in Washington, D.C.