KARACHI (Reuters) - Pakistans foreign exchange reserves rose to a record $17.61 billion in the week ending on March 12, from $17.37 billion the previous week, the State Bank said on Thursday. Reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan (SPB) rose to $14.19 billion from $13.97 billion in the week ending March 12, and those held by commercial banks also rose to $3.42 billion from $3.40 billion, Syed Wasimuddin, chief spokesman of the State Bank of Pakistan said. A rise in remittances and exports led to record foreign exchange reserves, said Wasimuddin. Foreign exchange reserves touched its previous high of $17.59 billion in the week ending on Feb. 19. Remittances by overseas Pakistanis rose by 20 percent to $6.96 billion in the first eight months of the 2010/11 fiscal year, compared to the same period the previous year, according to central bank data. Foreign exchange reserves were boosted in January by more than $633 million when the United States provided military and logistical support for a campaign against a Taliban insurgency. In May 2010, Pakistan received $1.13 billion in the fifth tranche of an $11 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout programme. An IMF mission was in Pakistan last week to conduct a review of the countrys economy.