KARACHI, May 19: To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Pakistan and China and to celebrate 2011 as the ‘Year of Pak-China Friendship’, the State Bank of Pakistan will begin issuing Rs20 commemorative coins on May 21.

The obverse or the front side of the coin has the crescent and a five-point star in the centre. The edge of the coin is marked by 60 beads while Islami Jamhooria Pakistan inscribed in Urdu can be read over the star.

The year 2011 is written under the crescent. The denomination 20, both in Urdu and English, flank the crescent.

The other side of the coin has the number 60 in bold font over which 2011 YEAR OF PAK CHINA FRIENDSHIP is written. A firm handshake can be seen under the number 60. The span of six decades signifying the long-lasting bond is referred to as ‘1951-2011’ at the bottom.

Speaking to Dawn, chief spokesperson for the State Bank of Pakistan Syed Wasimuddin said: “It was the federal government’s decision to come up with a commemorative coin. It is a gesture that indicates the ever-strengthening relationship which Pakistan and China have. We have minted 100,000 of them, and let’s suppose if we run out of the coins then it will be up to the government to reproduce or mint them again.”

“The coin is a legal tender, that is, you can use it, and at the same time collectors can keep it since it has that kind of value as well,” said Mr Wasimuddin.

The Rs20 coin is 30mm in diameter and weighs 9.5grams. It is made of 75 per cent copper and cupro nickel and 25 per cent nickel.

SBP Director of Museum and Art Gallery Dr Asma Ibrahim said: “The history of commemorative coins can be traced to 300BC when kings and queens issued them in different shapes to memorialise their lineage.

“These things are for all time to come. No different will be this Rs20 coin. If you’ve visited our gallery, you’d have noticed that we have a window exclusively reserved for such coins.”

“Commemorative gestures show your feeling towards someone that you admire or hold dear. They have a long-term effect.

Therefore the Rs20 coin will go a long way in furthering Pak-China friendship. Mind you, these things are undertaken only on special occasions or for special people,” said Dr Ibrahim.