KARACHI – The fourteen visiting Indian journalists on Monday created history in Pakistan by souveniring Rs 1,668 to be showcased at the State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) world class museum, something their central bank had ignored while approached by the SBP years ago.
The media persons from India, who arrived here Saturday evening on a weeklong visit to promote people-to-people contact between the two hostile countries, seemed smelling a rat in the intentions on Pakistani side which, perceivably, had kept the Indian rupee out of its historic museum.
“We gave away this (money) because we are surprised to see that our currency is not displayed in this world class museum!” wondered Maharashtra Times chief copy editor Pragati Bankhele.
Pragati complained that even the currency of far-located countries like Tanzania was displayed at the SBP’s museum, why not India’s? She exclaimed. Pragati tends to take some Pakistani coins to India to be gifted to her son.
TV 9 assistant editor Preeti Sompura was also heard loudly asking why the Indian currency was not there in a number of showcases displaying the old and new currency bills of countries ranging from Afghanistan to the United States at the museum’s Main Hall.
When asked, if they were sure the Pakistani currency was showcased back in the Indian museums Pragati replied: “Of course we have Pakistani currency in our museums.”
The visitors, however, went suddenly on defensive when SBP’s Museum and Art Gallary Department director Dr Asma Ibrahim informed that the ball, actually, was lying in India’s court. “We back in 2007 had written to all the (world’s) central banks to send us their currencies but few of them responded,” he said
Another SBP official told Pakistan Today that Morocco was the only country which had dispatched its currency bills in response to SBP’s request. Dr Asma said the museum was showcasing the currencies of at least 37 countries.
The give-away thing only hit the Indian print, electronic and web journalists when Dr Asma told Sahil Joshi of Aaj Takk TV that it was a routine for the foreign visitors to souvenir their countries’ currencies to the museum.
“We asked her as to why the Indian currency is not here and she (Dr Asma) says normally the people give away their currencies. So we thought to do this,” said Sahil who was collecting different currency bills and coins available with his colleagues.
The giveaway cost the initiator, Sahil, the most as he contributed Rs 1000, the largest denomination bill in India. Santosh contributed Rs 500, Norma Rs 102 (Rs 100 note and 2-rupee coin), Gurbir Singh Rs 50, Muhammed Wajihuddin Rs 10 and Pragati Rs 6 (Rs 5 note and one-rupee coin).
Totalling Rs 1,668, the giveaway was formally handed over to Dr Asma by The Press Club, Mumbai (TPC-M) president and leader of the delegation Gurbir Singh.
Availability being a basis for the unplanned giveaway by the Indian media persons, the SBP museum still lacks the neighbouring country’s Rs 20 bill and coins of five and 10-rupee denominations, thanks to the non-responsive Central Bank of India.