KARACHI: Trading continued uninterrupted at the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) in Karachi and the market further strengthened as the benchmark KSE-100 index gained 242.31 points to close at 34,182, despite a deadly attack on Monday morning.
At least eight people, including four attackers, have died and seven were injured after shots were fired by the gunmen trying to enter the PSX. The banned separatist group Balochistan Liberation Army has claimed responsibility for the attack.
“All the terrorists were gunned down even before they could enter the main compound,” PSX chairman Sulaiman S. Mehdi said, “Practically speaking the security was so tight and beefed up that they could not enter the building and were killed.”
He told Arab News that investors, stakeholders and management were in their offices during the attack.
“Trading has not halted for a second and our confidence is high, and the life is pretty normal at the stock exchange. This kind of coward attacks will not shake our confidence. We are resilient nation and are not afraid of such cowardly acts.”
Despite the attack, Pakistan was among Asia’s best performing markets on Monday.
“PSX trading and settlement continued smoothly. Investors did not panic, and the market gained by close to 1 percent with average volumes. Pakistan was among one of the best performing markets on this single day in Asia despite this failed attack,” said Muhammad Sohail, CEO of Topline Securities.
An eyewitness said there were no signs of panic at the main building.
“I was in the parking when firing started. Initially, we did not comprehend the situation as it was happening at the I.I. Chundrigar Road side. The loud explosions broke the window glasses of the guardroom where we took shelter,” Qazi Obaid, CFO of First Equity Mudaraba, told Arab News.
“We were confident that the terrorists will not cross the guardroom and they did not. Within an hour everything was clear and back to normal,” he said.
During the attack, a meeting of the PSX board of directors was underway. It was held online as Chinese directors could not travel to Pakistan due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Chinese have 40 percent of the bourse’s shares, which they bought in March 2017 through a consortium that comprises China Financial Futures Exchange Company Limited, Shanghai Stock Exchange, and Shenzhen Stock.
“Many reasons can be attributed to today’s incident and among many the most likely is a message to our Chinese brothers,” said Adil Ghaffar, former secretary general of PSX Brokers Association.
“China, being a strategic partner and investor having 40 percent of PSX, has been hit on financial front as Indian troops remain at Ladakh,” he said, referring to an ongoing military standoff between China and India at their border in the disputed region.