Pakistan opposition rally clashes with police, dozens hurt

Supporters of Pakistani opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif scuffle with police officers outside an anti-graft tribunal, in Lahore, Pakistan, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 06 December 2018
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Pakistan opposition rally clashes with police, dozens hurt

  • The violence erupted when police used batons to prevent Shahbaz Sharif’s supporters from reaching an anti-graft tribunal where he appeared to face a pre-trial hearing
  • Police say they prevented demonstrators from trying to storm the court

LAHORE: Pakistani officials say supporters of the country’s opposition leader, Shahbaz Sharif, have clashed with police in the eastern city of Lahore, leaving dozens of protesters hurt.
Thursday’s violence erupted when riot police used batons to prevent Sharif’s supporters from reaching an anti-graft tribunal where he appeared to face a pre-trial hearing over alleged links to a multi-million dollars housing scam.
Maryam Aurangzeb, a spokeswoman for Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League party, says police beat the party’s supporters without any provocation.
Police say they prevented demonstrators from trying to storm the court.
Sharif, the opposition leader in parliament, has been held in custody by the National Accountability Bureau since October. He is accused of influencing authorities to award contracts for a housing program to a company with which he had political connections.


Bulls welcome PM Khan to Karachi with 738-point stock market gain

Updated 10 December 2018
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Bulls welcome PM Khan to Karachi with 738-point stock market gain

  • Premier assures promotion of CPEC project listings and reduction of advance tax
  • Move would help increase volume and market capitalization, analysts say

KARACHI: Bulls from Pakistan’s equity market gave a rousing welcome to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday during the premier's visit to Karachi after he promised to create a conducive environment for investors which would include listings of projects from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative. 

The benchmark KSE-100 Index closed on Monday in the green zone, gaining 738 points – or 1.9 percent – and closed at the 39,300-level. Investors were mainly motivated by PM Khan’s meeting with a delegation from Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX). 
“Stocks showed a strong recovery after the PM’s affirmation of a fast-track enactment of PSX proposals on taxes, regulations, and CPEC debt listings,” Ahsan Mehanti, Chief Executive of Arif Habib Corporation, told Arab News. 
Oil and gas exploration companies led the recovery, as OPEC and Non-OPEC countries decided to cut oil production by 1.2 mbpd from January 2019 onwards. This attracted investors towards oil scrips, such as PPL (+5 percent), OGDC (+4.25 percent), POL (+3.66 percent) and MARI (+2.66 percent), and the sector added 257 points to the index. 
During the trading session, the volumes increased by 20 percent to 154 million while traded value fell by one percent to $48 million, according to Topline Securities. 
“Trade remained higher, led by oversold banking, cement, and auto stocks. Renewed institutional interest on likely rationalization of PSX taxes and government measures for raising investor confidence acted as a catalyst in the bullish close at PSX,” Mehanti added.
On Sunday, a delegation led by PSX Chairman Sulaiman Mehdi met the prime minister and discussed strategies to rejuvenate the stock market. 
“The meeting was very fruitful and the PM agreed to revive investors’ confidence in PSX,” a statement issued by the PSX, after the meeting, read. 
PM Khan assured the delegation that Advance Tax of 0.02 percent on purchase and sale of shares (both sides) would be reduced to 0.01 percent. He also agreed to allow capital losses to be carried forward to up to three years from the initial one year, rationalization of taxation of holding companies on inter corporate dividend; and rationalization of capital gain tax on equities in line with real estate in the next budget, the statement added. 
CPEC is the umbrella of the Chinese mega project under the One Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that is expected to stimulate economic activity across more than 65 countries. China is investing around $60 billion in Pakistan’s infrastructure and energy projects. 
PM Khan also assured the delegation of capital market to promote a listing of government and CPEC project debt at PSX. 
“It is good sign because it will increase the depth of the market following the listing of big Chinese companies,” Zafar Moti, former director of PSX, told Arab News. 
“There are many projects under CPEC, some of them have commenced operations and others are in the pipeline in public and privates sectors,” Muhamamd Sohail, CEO of Topline Securities, said. 
“The listing of CPEC projects will increase volume, market capitalization and, most importantly, shareholders, both Chinese and Pakistani, will know the real value of their projects after price discovery,” he added. 
PM Khan, during his daylong visit to Karachi, held separate meetings with different groups of traders, including with those from the Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Karachi Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and Overseas Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 
Representatives from the business community expressed concerns over the recent devaluation of the rupee, interest rate hike and gas tariff increase, and raised the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess issue.