Pakistani Banknotes without Pinholes

Peter Symes

When perusing banknotes in a dealer’s list, or auction catalogue, or in on-line sites selling banknotes, descriptions of Pakistani banknotes often include a description ‘usual pinholes’, sometimes just ‘p.h.’ (pin holes), or perhaps ‘W/H’ (with holes). The ‘pinholes’ are holes created by staples, as the State Bank of Pakistan’s banknotes were stapled in bundles prior to them being issued, to prevent pilfering. Thus, it is accepted by collectors of Pakistani banknotes, pinholes must be present in the banknotes. However, modern Pakistani banknotes do not have pinholes when issued.

The decision to issue banknotes without pinholes followed the introduction of the State Bank of Pakistan’s Clean Note Policy, implemented after a recommendation by the Task Force on Currency Management in the early years of this century. The first notice to the public on the cessation of stapling banknotes was a press release issued by the State Bank of Pakistan, dated 28th October, 2003. The press release stated in part:

All offices of the State Bank of Pakistan Banking Services Corporation (SBPBSC) will now issue fresh bank notes of Rs.5/- & Rs.10/- denominations without stapling. Moreover, the banks have also been asked by the SBPBSC to discontinue the process of stapling of these notes. Banks have also been asked to issue fresh as well as reissuable notes from their counters in unstapled condition with proper banding of note packets. This is an important step taken by the SBPBSC towards the “Clean Note Policy”. However, the stapled notes in circulation shall continue to remain as legal tender. Both the stapled and unstapled notes of the above mentioned denominations shall continue to remain in circulation till such time the banks withdraw the stapled notes in non-issuable condition, leaving behind only the unstapled clean notes in circulation. The public at large, in their own best interest, are also requested not to put staple on the fresh unstapled notes to ensure that soiled / mutilated, torn and dirty notes are replaced with clean and good quality notes.

Just over a year later, on 23rd November, 2004, the State Bank issued another press release advising the 50- and 100-rupee notes will be issued without pinholes:

The State Bank of Pakistan has decided to issue fresh bank notes of Rs. 50/- and Rs. 100/- denominations without stapling but with proper banding. Accordingly, all SBP Banking Services Corporation offices / branches will issue fresh currency of Rs. 50/- and Rs. 100/- denominations in unstapled form with immediate effect. Commercial banks have also been asked to ensure removal of pins from all notes of these denominations including the notes in reissuable form forthwith and issue the same to the general public in properly banded form.

These press releases explain why Pakistani banknotes came to be issued without pinholes; but, for the collector, the change saw the introduction of varieties of banknotes which are rarely, if ever, identified to collectors. That is, there are now specific signature varieties of notes issued with and without pinholes. The change to the banknotes was implemented during the governorship of Ishrat Husain (1999 to 2005) and so the 5-, 10-, 50- and 100-rupee notes with his signature can be found with and without pinholes – two varieties within a signature variety.

What about the 500- and 1000-rupee notes? Specific evidence for the cessation of pinholes in these denominations is not apparent, as no press releases were issued citing the cessation of stapling these notes. It is understood the 500- and 1000-rupee notes issued from 13 March 2006 are the first of these denominations not being stapled. On that date, the 500-rupee note of the new series, the fifth series, and the old 1000-rupee note of the fourth series, bearing the signature of Dr. Shamshed Akhtar, were placed in circulation. This means all 500-rupee notes of the fourth series have staple holes, even those with the signature of Dr. Shamshed Akhtar, and while the 1000-rupee notes up to and including notes signed by Ishrat Husain carry staple holes, the 1000-rupee notes carrying the signature of Dr. Shamshed Akhtar do not have staple holes. From this we can determine there are no signature varieties for the two high denominations which have sub-varieties of with and without staple holes.

However, the ‘Clean Note Policy’ and news of the cessation of the use of staples did not reach everyone. After the new 1000-rupee note was introduced on 26 February 2007, in August questions were asked in the National Assembly[1]. Speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain on Wednesday asked a National Assembly standing committee to probe and report within a month on why the new Rs1,000 currency note carried an imprint of the national flag in lilac rather than green and why its wads were bound by a paper band and not staples as done in the past … The speaker said it had also come to his notice that one or two Rs1,000 notes had been found missing from the unstapled wads.[2] By this time, notes in the lower denominations had not carried staple holes for three to four years, indicating some Assembly members were out of touch. The State Bank of Pakistan issued a press release on 9 August 2007, the day after the questions were raised in the National Assembly, which addressed the matter of the ‘Turkish Flag’[3] and also the matter of stapling the banknotes:

It is pointed out that non-stapling of banknote packets is a current international practice and the part of State Bank’s clean-note policy to enhance the life span of banknotes by avoiding cutting and tearing up of banknotes while removing the staples. The general public is supposed to count the notes before leaving the bank counters. Banks are also required to make good the shortages of banknotes when pointed out at the time of receiving notes by the customers.

While collectors need not search for 500- and 1000- rupee varieties within a signature variety, they should hunt the varieties, with and without pinholes, within the signature of Ishrat Husain for the four lower denomination notes – 5, 10, 50 and 100 rupees.

© Peter Symes