Pakistani stocks slide again amid poll uncertainty

KARACHI – Pakistan’s share market tumbled for a second straight day on Tuesday as investors waited for a clearer picture to emerge of the country’s political crisis.

The Karachi Stock Exchange 100-share index fell 3.8 percent in early trade, after last week’s assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto unleashed a wave of violent unrest and threatened instability in nuclear-armed Pakistan.

The Election Commission is due to decide on Tuesday whether to delay elections scheduled for January 8 after Bhutto was killed in a gun-and-bomb attack last Thursday at a campaign rally.

“There is an element of nervousness and anxiety within the market. And a delay in the election schedule may add further to the anxiety,” said Tariq Choudhry, head of sales at Invisor Securities.

Bhutto’s murder threw into doubt a smooth transition to civilian-led democracy after almost a decade of military-backed government under President Pervez Musharraf. It also unleashed mob violence, especially in southern Sindh province, Bhutto’s political stronghold and home to Karachi, the financial hub.

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