Pakistani investors take to streets, demand market closure

July 17th, 2008 - 8:43 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Nawaz Sharif
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, July 17 (IANS) Many investors in Pakistan, who have lost money as a benchmark index declined by 33 percent in four months, stoned the stock market building in Karachi and protested in Lahore and Islamabad, blaming political leaders for their losses and demanding the closure of the markets. In Islamabad, the investors burnt tyres in front of the stock market building and shouted slogans against the market management and the government. Fearing more losses, the protesters demanded immediate closure of the market until the political situation stablised.

In Karachi, stone throwing shattered the stock market building’s window panes and two people were injured.

The Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) called an emergency meeting after the protests to review the situation but decided not to close the market.

There was confusion in the business sector with top leaders of both leading parties - the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) - staying out of the country for the last two weeks.

PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari is in Dubai with his children while PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif is in London with his ailing wife who was operated upon recently.

In the current week, the Karachi Stock Exchange benchmark index KSE 100 lost 14 percent - equivalent of Pakistani rupees 363 billion. The overall losses in the KSE market capitalisation have been estimated at PKR 1,679 billion from April 18 to July 17.

These major issues had pushed down the KSE-100 index from life high at15,676 points recorded on April 18 to 10.291 points, reflecting a big decline of 5,185 or 33 per cent.

On April 18, the KSE 100 reached the all-time high of 15,676 points but it has now touched 10,291 points, a decline of 5,185 or 33 percent.

Prolonged political uncertainty and fragile economic situation coupled with deteriorating law and order in the northern part of the country and the US threats of direct attacks in tribal areas have not only shattered the confidence of foreign investors but also forced domestic investors to pull out of the equity markets.

“If they cannot control the economic and political situation, they should at least close the market,” said one of the protesters in Islamabad who said he lost PKR 13 million and had gone bankrupt.

Some investors also accused large corporate houses of manipulating in the market while some blamed the media for sensationalizing political developments, thus negatively affecting the stock and money markets.

Small investors have urged the government to pump in money to stop further decline in the market.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in South Asia |