Pakistan’s Stocks Advance Most Since July as Cleric Ends Sit-in

Pakistan’s stocks rose the most since July as a Muslim cleric ended a protest in the capital after signing a deal with the government on electoral changes ahead of voting planned for May.

The Karachi Stock Exchange 100 Index gained 1.7 percent to 16,560.42 at 11:24 a.m. local time. Lucky Cement Ltd., the biggest exporter of the building material, rallied 2.4 percent.

Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, who heads an Islamic group with 90 branches worldwide, announced the accord yesterday after about five hours of talks with government officials in his bullet-proof bunker in Islamabad. The scholar had earlier delivered passionate speeches demanding that the government dissolve the legislature and implement changes he said would thwart corrupt politicians seeking election.

“Investors are feeling confident now after the deal was reached,” Khalil Usmani, vice president equity sales at JS Global Ltd., said on the phone from Karachi.

Under the accord, the election commission committed to making certain candidates aren’t corrupt and meet all legal requirements. The government will propose names of two impartial candidates for the caretaker prime minister to oversee polls after consulting Qadri’s party.

The benchmark stock index tumbled 3.2 percent on Jan. 15 after the nation’s Supreme Court ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. The chairman of the anti-corruption agency told the chief justice yesterday there isn’t enough evidence to arrest the prime minister and others accused of graft in awarding power contracts.

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