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One country, many currencies.

The Afghani has not been able to replace the US dollar, Pakistani rupee and Iranian rial in many parts of the country despite the efforts of both the previous and present government.

Provinces like Kunar, Nuristan, Laghman, Khost, Paktia, Paktika, Ghazni, Zabul and Kandahar still use Pakistan's currency while provinces in the west -- Herat, Farah, Nimroz and Badghis -- use the Iranian rial. US dollars are in circulation across the country.

For the last decade and a half, governments have tried to phase out the use of foreign currencies.

Currency dealers are of the opinion that government efforts have had some success and the circulation of foreign currencies in Afghanistan has weakened. Haji Sarwar Khan, a teller at Kabul Saray Shazada money exchange market says, "Dealings in foreign currencies such as Pakistani rupees and US dollars have decreased and this is the result of the combined effort of both people and the government." In his opinion, Afghans know that they should do business in Afghanis to safeguard their national identity.

Haji Ahmad Shah, another teller in the market, points out that more than in Kabul there are multiple currencies in use in the "frontier provinces". The government needs to convince shopkeepers and customers to switch to Afghanis. "Afghanistan must have a stable monetary unit," he says.

The situation on the ground in the east.


"Previously Pakistani rupees were used," says Ruhullah Amin, a teacher in the provincial capital Jalalabad. "When the new currency notes were introduced, we thought we would be able to stop the use of Pakistani rupees but it has not happened. In some places they do not accept Afghanis."

In Nangarhar it is usual for shopkeepers to treat the two currencies on par though the reality is that one Afghani is equal to one and a half Pakistani rupees.

Nearly all business in the bazaars is conducted in the latter currency since the goods have been bought in Pakistan and paid for with Pakistani rupees.

Shirin Aqa is a shopkeeper in Jalalabad city. He confirms that a bulk of what he stocks has come from across the border. According to him, customers are never forced to trade in Pakistani rupees although all imports are paid for in Pakistani rupees.

Engineer Saidajan who lives in the province's Behsood thinks unless the government uses force the Afghani can never be the only currency in circulation in Afghanistan. "Our own money is our national identity," he says. "If we buy or sell the goods in a foreign currency we are damaging our national identity and economy."

Ghulam Sidiq who lives in Jalalabad city wants the government to stop the dual currency practice. "Government officials shop with Afghanis, but most people change Afghanis into Pakistani rupees (kaldar), which is insulting the Afghani," he says.

Abdul Qayum from Pacheeragam district has come to the market in the provincial capital. He narrates his experience of buying from a shop belonging to an Indian. "The shopkeeper sells goods for both Afghanis and Pakistani rupees. I had turned all my Pakistani rupees into Afghanis out of fear of the police but the shopkeeper who values the rupee and Afghani at the same rate did not take fewer Afghanis from me," says Qayum.


The Pakistani rupee is widely used here. In fact, people in remote parts of the province have never even seen an Afghani. Ziaul Rahman from Ahmad Abad district is critical that people have failed to value their own currency.


According to a teacher, Abdul Majeed, all trading in the province is in Pakistani rupees. The Afghani is much less in circulation, he adds.

Zaherjan confirms all sales in shops or between people are in Pakistani rupees. Many shopkeepers and traders deal with Pakistani rupees. A shopkeeper in Kandahar city confesses, "I do my business in Pakistani currency. I do this because I have bought everything with Pakistani rupees."


Abdul Ahmad Khan, a resident of Lashkargah, says big and small businesses deal in Pakistani rupees. He thinks this is natural since the province is on the border with Pakistan. A shopkeeper categorically stated the government was to blame if the Afghani was not the sole currency of the country. "If it was to prevent usage, the Pakistani money would have no role to play here," he adds.


People in the Afghan capital use the Pakistani rupee. Take Subhanullah who has bought some 300 sq metres of land in the Hoodkhil area for 450,000 Pakistani rupees. "I wanted to give him Afghanis but the owner of the land requested Pakistani rupees. I had to go to the currency market and buy Pakistani rupees!" he told Killid.

One man who introduced himself as Ekramullah says that except big purchases like vehicles and land the rest are in Afghanis. "The government has not been able to weed out the usage of foreign currencies. The situation is worse in the provinces -- in some provinces you may wonder if you are in Afghanistan or Iran and Pakistan."

Experts say that the widespread use of foreign currency is detrimental to the country. Saifudin Saihoon who is a lecturer in the faculty of economy, Kabul University, thinks that it weakens the control of the government.

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Publication:Killid Weekly
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Mar 15, 2016
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