Pakistan’s benchmark stock index tumbled the most in 17 months after a report the nation’s top court ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf.
The benchmark Karachi Stock Exchange 100 Index sank 3.2 percent to 16,107.89 at the close, its steepest drop since Aug. 9, 2011. Habib Bank Ltd., Pakistan’s second-biggest by assets, declined 2.5 percent to 111 rupees. Lafarge Pakistan Cement Co. sank 7.5 percent to 4.66 rupees. Lotte Pakistan PTA Ltd., part of South Korea’s Lotte Group, lost 9.2 percent to 6.29 rupees.
“The uncertainty of what may happen is causing investors to panic,” Rehan Shaikh, chief executive officer at HBL Asset Management Ltd. in Karachi, said by phone. “Investors are reacting to the news of the prime minister.”
Pakistan’s Supreme Court today ordered the arrest of Ashraf on charges of corruption in a case involving rental power projects, GEO television reported, citing a court order.
The reports of an arrest warrant being issued for Ashraf came as a popular Islamic cleric, Tahir-ul-Qadri, rallied thousands of people in the center of Islamabad, vowing to stay until the government quit and corrupt politicians are removed from the legislature.
Ashraf took power last year after his predecessor was removed by top judges for refusing to order the reopening of graft charges against the president. Rolling power outages in Pakistan have closed factories and sparked street protests.