Demonetisation in Pakistan: Nawaz Sharif govt not keen to scrap 5000-rupee note

Pakistan’s upper house on Monday passed a resolution calling on the government to scrap the Rs 5,000 note, a proposal on the similar lines as implemented by arch rival India last month.

The resolution was floated by Senator Osman Saifullah Khan of the Pakistan’s People Party (PPP), the main opposition outfit which enjoys a majority in the senate. Khan said that the move would help curb black money flow and tax evasion, according to reports.

Khan said that notes should be phased out over a three to five year period, unlike the approach adopted by neighbouring India where a 50-day window has been given to citizens to get their old currency notes swapped or deposited in bank.

However, a government minister expressed reservations about any such move.

Pakistan’s Law Minister Justice Senator Zahid Hamid was quoted as saying in Pakistan media that 30 percent of Pakistan’s total currency in circulation was in Rs 5000 notes, abolishing which he said would cause a ‘monetary crisis’ in the country.

Hamid said that people might resort to foreign currency in case of a cash crunch.

The minister reportedly also noted that Rs 3.431 trillion worth of currency would have to be taken of circulation in case Rs 5000-note is banned.

Corruption is a big issue in Pakistan, with the South Asian country ranking 117th out of 168 countries on international watchdog Transparency International’s Corruption Index.

According to Transparency, 49 percent of Pakistan’s population reported paying a bribe in 2010.

Corruption in politics is big in Pakistan as well, with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself facing a corruption probe after names of his relatives featured in the leaked Panama Papers.

Emerging political parties such as cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaaf have used corruption to mobilise people against the ruling party and main opposition, to some success.