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History of Pakistani banknotes

By Kashif Hussain

January 29, 2024 06:45 PM


The intriguing history of Pakistani currency notes spans five generations since the partition of United India in 1947, addressing various issues over time. Now, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has taken a principled decision to launch a new sixth-generation set of currency notes across all denominations. This strategic move aims to combat the prevalent circulation of counterfeit notes in the market, marking another significant chapter in the evolution of Pakistan's currency landscape.

About the history of Pakistani banknotes, the State Bank of Pakistan described that after initial usage of Indian Banknotes in the country at the time of Independence, Pakistan (Monetary System and Reserve Bank) Order, 1947” allowed modification and circulation of Indian notes. These modified notes, issued in Rs. 1, 2, 5, 10 and 100 denominations, contained two inscriptions on the front i.e. "Government of Pakistan" at the top and “حکومت پاکستان  “at the bottom of the white area, generally reserved for viewing watermark.

Emergency Banknote Series--1948

After SBP’s formation, the Government of Pakistan (GoP) issued an emergency banknote series on Oct 01, 1948, in Rs. 5, 10 and 100 denominations, printed by Thomas De La Rue & Company. These notes, signed by Mr. Ghulam Muhammad, the first Finance Minister of Pakistan, had neither a watermark nor a security thread. On Mar 01, 1949, SBP issued a Re. 1 note printed by Bradbury Wilkinson & Company and signed by Mr V. A Turner, Secretary of Finance, Government of Pakistan.

First Generation Series --1949 to 1953

On Mar 01, 1949, SBP issued its first generation of banknotes, initially in Rs. 2 denomination, printed by Bradbury Wilkinson and company. These notes signed by Mr. Zahid Hussain, 1st Governor, SBP were printed in three languages i.e. English, Urdu and Bengali and incorporated security features like a crescent moon watermark and security thread.

In this generation, Rs. 5 and Rs. 10 printed by Thomas De La Rue & Company, were issued on Sep 01, 1951. On Sep 15, 1953, Rs. 100 note, printed by Thomas De La Rue & Company and PSPC was issued. All three denominations contained a watermark and security thread running through the note.

Second Generation Series--1956 to 1964

Security features of Pakistani banknotes have been evolving steadily. To ensure that every subsequent series is more secure, ever more sophisticated security features have been incorporated in various banknote generations. Accordingly, in 1956, it was decided to issue Rs. 100 banknotes with a portrait of the Father of the Nation, Quaid-i-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, along with a watermark containing his photograph and the security thread. This note was issued on Dec 24, 1957. The use of portrait on this note set the trend for all subsequent issues of SBP. On Jun 12, 1964, Rs. 50 note was also introduced with a promissory clause and the signatory’s designation, subsequently adopted for all other notes in this series.

Third Generation Series--1971

SBP has consistently undertaken all measures to its banknotes are treated respectfully, with no personal/political purposes. To this end, on Jun 08, 1971, it was declared that all banknotes carrying political inscriptions were no longer legal tender, along with the discontinuation of all Rs. 100/- and Rs. 500/- notes.

In line with the above policy and to combat any negative fallout resulting from East Pakistan’s secession, GoP demonetized the remaining notes in circulation and introduced a new banknote series, for which the design was kept the same while the colours of the second series were updated from blue to dark blue. The only new design note in this series was the Rs. 100 denomination.

Fourth Generation Series--1975 to 1981

To ensure that every new series issued by SBP represents the whole society, the fourth generation series incorporated both Urdu and English inscriptions.  On Apr 15, 1975, Re. 1/- note was issued, with its new design on Mar 24, 1981 by the government. On Jun 12, 1976, in a key implementation of the new series, Rs. 5/-, Rs. 10/- and Rs. 100/- notes were introduced whereas the Rs. 50 note was introduced on Dec 29, 1977. During 1982, all denominations were released with a line of Urdu text added to their back i.e. “رزق حلال عبادت ہے  ”. On Feb 07, 1984, the SBP modified this line to read ‘’  حصول رزق حلال عین عبادت ہے  ’’. Rs. 2/-, Rs. 500/- and Rs. 1000/- new notes were issued on Aug 24, 1985, Apr 01, 1986, and Jul 18, 1987 respectively.

Fifth Generation Series--2005 to 2008

To further deter counterfeiting, the SBP, with the approval of the federal government, decided to issue new design banknotes incorporating high-tech security features which counterfeit and increase the efficiency of machine-based note processing. These notes are printed at PSPC with a quality assurance mechanism that brings Pakistani Banknotes to par with modern, banknotes.

On Aug 13, 2005, the issuance of fifth-generation banknotes was started with the introduction of Rs. 20/- banknote first time in Pakistan’s history with added security features, followed by the issuance of Rs. 10,  100, 500 and 5000 banknotes issued on Nov 11 and Nov 27, 2006. On Mar 22, 2008, a new color scheme i.e. orange-green-yellow color for Rs. 20 denomination was introduced. The security features of the new colour banknote are similar to the previous Rs. 20 note in 2005. On Jul 08, 2008, new banknotes series of Rs. 5 and Rs. 50 were introduced.   On Jan 25, 2010, another security feature “Optical Variable Ink (OVI) was added to the Rs 500 banknote to make it easier for the general public to recognize the genuineness of the banknote.

Special Issuance (Commemorative and Hajj Notes)

In May 1950, the Government of Pakistan allowed SBP to issue Hajj Notes with the same design, slight colour variation and an overprint “حج نوٹ  ” indicating specific usage. These notes were not legal tender in both East and West Pakistan as they were only allowed to pilgrims for purchasing Saudi riyals, to be remitted to Pakistan via the usual banking channels.

The SBP also makes concerted efforts to commemorate significant events in Pakistan’s history through the issuance of commemorative currency, such as the issuance of a special Rs. 5/- commemorative note on Aug 13, 1997, celebrating Pakistan’s 50th anniversary.

 


Kashif Hussain

A seasoned journalist, with a career spanning three decades.


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