There was a time when Pakistanis were not allowed to take more than U.S. 500 out of the country. The famous bald actor “Nanna” was caught with about U.S. 5,000 at the airport. He asked the government how it could expect anyone to go abroad and spend the equivalent of only Rs. 12,500 and survive, since hotel charges in those days were three thousand rupees a night.
It was Nawaz Sharif who allowed travelers to take an unlimited amount of foreign exchange with them. The airport staff stopped searching passengers and it was a great relief to know that there was no need to conceal dollars in one’s luggage or clothes. As far as I know, this rule was still in force when I went out of the country three months back.
Now we hear (on TV channels) that a person is allowed to take out with him U.S. $ 10,000 on every trip. There are hundreds of Pakistanis who go to foreign destinations every month, so apparently quite a great deal of foreign exchange is already leaving the country. And yet the government has suddenly arrested Khanani and Kalia, the leading forex dealers in the country for arranging transfer of dollars to other countries.
The question is, why didn’t the government do anything for the past two months when the rupee was falling freely? And why does it still allow travelers to take ten thousand dollars out of the country? Why not reduce this amount, to prevent the rupee from sliding further?