The Pakistani Rupee

Posted on November 13, 2008
Filed Under >Uneeb Walayat, History
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Uneeb Walayat

The Pakistani rupee is the official currency of Pakistan. The issuance of the currency is controlled by the State Bank of Pakistan, the central bank. The most commonly used symbol for the rupee is Rs, it is used in receipts when purchasing goods and services. Under the ISO 4217 code for the Pakistani rupee the code is PKR. In Pakistan, the Pakistani rupee is referred to as the “rupees”, “rupaya” or “rupaye”.

The Pakistani rupee is no longer subdivided into 100 paisa, due to the Sate Bank has stopped minting it. Pakistani rupees start from 1 rupee and goes up to 5000 rupees.


The origin of the word “rupee” is found in the Sanskrit word rup or rupa, which means “silver” in many Indo-Aryan languages. The Sanskrit word rupyakam means coin of silver. The derivative word Rupaya was used to denote the coin introduced by Sher Shah Suri.

The Pakistani rupee was put into circulation after the country became independent from the British Raj in 1947. For the first few months of independence, Pakistan used Indian coins and notes with “Pakistan” stamped on them. New coins and banknotes were issued in 1948. Like the Indian rupee, it was originally divided into 16 annas, each of 4 pies or 12 pies. The currency was decimalized in 1961, with the rupee subdivided into 100 paisas . However as paisa was becoming unpopular, the state bank took a decision to no longer mint them and start the currency from PKR 1 rupee, hence, ridding of the decimal point.


In 1948, coins were introduced in denominations of 1 pie, ½, 1 and 2 annas, ¼, ½ and 1 rupee. 1 pie coins were added in 1951. In 1961, coins for 1, 5 and 10 pies were issued, followed later the same year by 1 paisa, 5 and 10 paisa coins. In 1963, 10 and 25 paise coins were introduced, followed by 2 paise the next year. 1 rupee coins were reintroduced in 1979, followed by 2 rupees in 1998 and 5 rupees in 2002. 2 paisa coins were last minted in 1976, with 1 paisa coins ceasing production in 1979. The 5, 10, 25 and 50 paisas all ceased production in 1994.

– Click on the table below to see a larger and more readable image

To read more about other or obsolete coins, please visit an earlier post of ATP by Asma Mirza here.

I could not get the actual dates of these 2.5 (Arhai), 5, 100 and 1000 rupees but these notes must be in circulation before the partition, I guess.


The State Bank of Pakistan is responsible for printing rupee banknotes. In 1947, provisional issues of banknotes were made, consisting of government of India and Reserve Bank of India notes for 1, 2, 5, 10 and 100 rupees overprinted with the text “Government of Pakistan” in English and Urdu. Regular government issues commenced in 1948 in denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 100 rupees.

The government continued to issue 1 rupee notes until the 1980s but other note issuing was taken over by the State Bank in 1953, when 2, 5, 10 and 100 rupees notes were issued. Only a few 2 rupees notes were issued. 50 rupees notes were added in 1957, with 2 rupees notes reintroduced in 1985.

In 1986, 500 rupees notes were introduced, followed by 1000 rupees in 1987. 2 and 5 rupees notes were replaced by coins in 1998 and 2002. 20 rupees notes were added in 2005, followed by 5000 rupees in 2006.

The following notes that are no longer in circulation but it will definitely refresh the memories of our old citizens. I could not find the exact year of 1 rupee note (Top left Corner) but it must be in circulation in 50s. The 10 rupees (Top Right corner) was issued in 1953. The bottom left and right corner notes, 10 rupees and 50 rupees respectively were introduced in Gen. Ayub Khan’s era in 1957.

The below 5, 10 and 50 rupees note were issued in 1972 and these were in circulation till 1978. That point in time, Ghulam Ishaq Khan was the Governor of State Bank

The following notes were introduced in 1975.

All banknotes other than the 1 and 2 rupees feature a portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah on the obverse along with writing in Urdu. The reverses of the banknotes vary in design and have English text. The only Urdu text found on the reverses is the Urdu translation of the Prophetic Hadith, “Seeking honest livelihood is worship of God.”

The banknotes vary in size and color, with larger denominations being longer than smaller ones. All contain multiple colors. However, each denomination does have one colour which predominates. All banknotes feature a watermark for security purposes. On the larger denomination notes, the watermark is a picture of Jinnah, while on smaller notes, it is a crescent and star. Different types of security threads are also present in each banknote.

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The State Bank has started a new series of banknotes, phasing out the older designs for new and more secure ones.

(*Recently the State Bank revised the Rs.20/- banknote, after complains of its similarity to the Rs.5000/-, which caused a lot of confusion and financial losses, when people gave out Rs.5000/- notes, thinking them to be Rs.20/- notes)

Hajj Banknotes:

Due to the large number of pilgrims to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the 1950s, the State Bank of Pakistan provided simple exchange facilities for Hajj pilgrims. The issue of special notes for the express use of the pilgrims was introduced. Although other means of exchange were considered, the high level of illiteracy amongst the pilgrims and the additional costs that would be incurred through the need to purchase such means prevented the government from these methods of exchange. The State Bank Order to allow the issue of these “Hajj notes” was made in May 1950.

The use of Hajj notes continued until 1994. Until this date, stocks of notes were used without the necessity of printing new notes with the signatures of the later Governors. It is believed that, once the use of Hajj Notes was discontinued, most of the remaining stock of notes was destroyed. However, a large quantity of notes did find their way into the collector market following their sale to a bank note dealer by the State Bank of Pakistan.

– Click on the table below to see a larger and more readable image

Special banknote on 50th Independence Day celebrations of Pakistan:

– Click on the table below to see a larger and more readable image

Photo Credits: Some photos for the article come from Wikipedia

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