Friday, 15 June 2012

Base metal into gold

KARACHI/TURBAT: Thousands of old one-rupee coins were sold for millions of rupees in the Makran region on Tu
esday in what became a ‘gold rush’ in the area. Throughout the day, people spent their time looking for the humble golden-coloured coin which was being sold for as much as Rs1,000 in some cases -- though no one quite knew why. It was rumoured later in the day that it was being smuggled to Iran which was buying it because “it contained uranium”. Regardless of whether or not there was any truth in the story, the frenzy persisted all day.

“I had heard another rumour in the morning that jewellers are buying it because it’s full of gold,” said Murad Baloch, a beggar in Turbat. “I don’t care about rumours. I sold 150 for Rs45,000 and bought myself a new motorbike.” He thinks he has earned it for he has been begging for coins all his life. [...]

[…] “At least seven people have asked me for the old coins since the morning,” said Ahmed, a paan-shop owner on Tuesday. “I don’t understand what the deal is.” A man offered up to Rs. 1,000 for a single coin to Ahmed, who finds it anything but believable. And he is not alone. Many paanwalas and shopkeepers told the News about being piqued by people asking for the all-but-worthless copper coin that the State Bank stopped issuing about a year ago. There were also reports that the asking price for a coin had reached Rs 2,500 on Wednesday. […] Syed Wasimuddin, chief spokesperson for the State Bank of Pakistan, said that he first found out about the rumour from a regional Sindhi newspaper which called him for his version. “It started in the interior of Sindh. The rumour is that the government has inadvertently mixed gold in the making of the ‘brown’ old coins which it soon realised and immediately stopped issuing.” 

Source: The News International, 7 June 2012

Subsequent follow-up reports in the Express Tribune, The News International, the Telegraph and Forbes.