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Harvard | Mr. FBI To MBB
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MIT Sloan | Mr. Special Forces
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A Berkeley Haas MBA Vows To Keep His Wartime Promise

Lughmani translating for U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham. Courtesy photo


In the following weeks, Lughmani’s classmate, Petra Nelson, approached him, eager to help Afghans. Together, the class was able to raise over $8,500, which was sent to the International Committee of the Red Cross for Afghanistan medical relief. “Our small cohort of less than 300 students is directly impacting lives through their monetary contributions,” says Lughmani. “The amount of people who are going to have access to medical care in Afghanistan because of the Haas community is inspiring.”

“Building a better society is not some idealistic fantasy at Berkeley,” he continues.“Students genuinely care about humanity and what’s happening around them. Not only are the people here engineering the future, but there is also a passion for serious impact on campus.”

Lughmani with Jon Reed, the former Green Beret with whom he worked to aid the evacuation of Kabul. Courtesy photo


In the first couple of weeks of starting at Berkeley, Lughmani was brought into assisting with evacuations through the Pat Tillman Foundation and the Special Operations Association of America (SOAA). He was connected to a former Green Beret, Jon Reed, who happened to live in Berkeley. The pair worked together to get Afghans into the airport in Kabul, provide shelter through their network of safehouses across Afghanistan, and complete safe passages to other countries by joining forces with other veterans, active-duty service members, intelligence professionals, and civil servants who volunteered to help Afghans flee Taliban retaliation.

These remote, military volunteer evacuation efforts are part of a movement called Digital Dunkirk, which references the evacuation of stranded allied soldiers from the beaches of northern France in World War II.

Lughmani says that Afghans are discouraged by the state department’s delayed efforts. However, they have a tremendous amount of trust and confidence in veterans due to the bond they created when overseas. He explains that the biggest challenge right now is getting the state department to approve visas for stranded Afghans before it’s too late. “People are running out of places to hide, and it won’t be long before the Taliban or ISIS-K are onto them. We can’t afford any more bureaucratic breakdowns,” he explains.

While Afghans await their immigration status, getting aircraft for evacuations and maintaining SOAA’s network of safehouses is Lughmani’s primary focus. “We’re hitting the fundraising circuit and asking private citizens and businesses to help us shelter and evacuate our allies. Those funds go entirely to this evacuation effort,” he says.


Lughmani describes a typical day of evacuations as starting and ending with checking in with displaced Afghans across Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Middle East. These people are hiding from the Taliban and are either awaiting their immigration status from the state department or seeking asylum.

“My phone is active all day as I receive pleas for help from frantic Afghans,” he says. “I’ve dealt with families who have had loved ones abducted and tortured by the Taliban, people who were victims of the Taliban’s retribution killings, and single women who are in hiding for fear of being raped or forced into marriage with a member of the Taliban.”

Even though he’s in business school, Lughmani says that helping Afghanistan is his main priority. Thankfully, he’s been able to lean on his Berkeley community for support. “It was a struggle to balance evacuations and school, especially in the early days when I was adjusting to the new reality. I won’t ever forget the generosity of my classmates who made me Indian food, brought me snacks to class so that I could stay awake, and my study group members who rallied around me and helped me catch up with academics after missing the first few weeks of school,” he says.

“I don’t know what a normal MBA experience is like,” he continues. “The task at hand is to help as many people in Afghanistan as possible. Unfortunately, the job of evacuating allies has been left to veterans and civilian volunteers, and we can’t rest until the job is done.”