One of the achievements of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan was the value of the Afghani, our currency. The value of the Afghani, especially against Pakistani rupees, was high over the past 20 years. This has been considered as a sign of pride by the Afghans. When the Taliban were ruling Afghanistan from 1996-2001, 1000 Afghani was equivalent to one Pakistani rupee. But after the Taliban were ousted and the new government assumed power, the Pakistani rupee fell drastically against the Afghani. Currently, 1000 Pakistani rupees is valued at 499 Afghanis. Anger flared among the Afghans as soon as the news came out that Afghanistan and Pakistan’s trade will be done in Pakistani rupees.
Saleem, a Twitter user, wrote: “It is our right to use our own currency in the dealings.”
A shopkeeper in Kabul who did not want his identity to be revealed said to me: “I will only use Afghan currency. If we use Pakistani rupee, then it means that we accept the Pakistani establishment’s involvement in Afghanistan.” Abdul Baqi Wardak, a Facebook user wrote: “If this is the decision of Pakistan, then as a doctor, I will not prescribe Pakistani medicine and I will not buy Pakistani products.” Hayatullah Safi stated on Facebook: “A Proud Afghan will never accept Pakistani rupees. We should stand against it. Another resident of Kabul told me: “Pakistan can never impose its currency on us the way they imposed the Taliban. Sooner or later, we will get rid of them both.” Marzia (not her real name), who is a doctor, told me: “Afghani is the last thing left for us Afghans. They took away our democracy, destroyed our security forces, forced women to stay home, there is no freedom of speech, and now they want to replace Afghanis with Pakistani rupees. They want to break us. This is painful.” Her sister, who also didn’t want to be named, added: “The new imposed government wants to abolish everything and every achievement that we Afghans were proud of.” Some social media users have already started a trend promoting the Afghani as their national identity. They want other Afghans to join their cause.
Afghan Businessmen Reject Bilateral Trade in Pakistani Rupee
The statement of a high-ranking Pakistani Minister that trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan will be in rupees under a currency swap arrangement has met with stiff opposition in Afghanistan. Many leading Afghan businessmen have refused to conduct bilateral trade in the Pakistani rupee. Reports of rejection of the Pakistani rupee for trade are coming from various parts of Afghanistan.
In a news report in the Pakistani newspaper Daily Jang, Finance Minister Shawkat Tareen was quoted as saying that Afghanistan was facing the shortage of dollar reserves. Hence all future bilateral trade would be conducted in Pakistani rupees. According to the report, Tareen made the statement after International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank suspended payments to Afghanistan. The proposal caused an immediate and swift wave of anger in Afghanistan. Soon, the Afghans launched a social media campaign titled ‘Afghani is our national identity’. Soon, this was the slogan popularly used by the Afghanis on social media: “We are residents of Afghanistan, Afghani is our national identity and using Afghan currency is our national responsibility”.
Many Afghans demanded action against officials or businessmen if they conducted the bilateral trade in rupees.