We are hit every day with a seemingly endless flow of news stories about cataclysmic events. But a terrorist attack upon the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) in Karachi on Monday, June 29, still shocked the world.
By the time the attack was over, the four armed, separatist terrorists leading the attack were shot dead, according to the PSX and media reports. The shootout also took the lives of two private security guards and a police officer who were protecting the exchange.
Multiple media accounts also reported that the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) announced that it launched the attack against the PSX building because the exchange is partially owned by Chinese interests.
The BLA is “working to separate the western province of Balochistan [part of Pakistan] from the rest of the country,” and has “accused China of colluding in the economic exploitation of their homeland and in the killing of the Baloch people,” according to The Wall Street Journal. The BLA is claiming that the natural resources of Balochistan have been exploited by the rest of Pakistan and China.
In an official statement, the PSX states that the “situation was brought under control” because security forces, police, and rangers “dealt with the situation effectively and very quickly.”
“Four heavily armed terrorists attempted to enter Pakistan Stock Exchange premises this morning at about 10:02 am,” according to the official PSX statement. Within the building is a trading floor and offices for brokerages. The actual number of people in the building that day was lower than normal because so many firms have staff working remotely due to the global pandemic lockdown.
The attackers “were stopped from entering the premises” and there was an exchange of fire that left the terrorists dead, according to the PSX. Media reports said that the attackers threw grenades. PSX officials say that the “situation was brought under control within about 12 minutes.”
On the trading floor, the PSX reports that despite the attack the stock market “continued to operate normally … Protocols in place were followed and the management took necessary measures to ensure that the Exchange continued to function normally.”
There was understandable panic and confusion within the PSX building, according to media reports.
Farrukh Khan, the managing director for PSX, noted that “throughout the COVID-19 lockdown and now this extreme situation brought about by the attack, the stock exchange continued to function normally and did not close for even a minute.”
The PSX has “robust protocols and processes in place that have allowed the Exchange to continue functioning under such extreme conditions,” Khan adds.
Over the coming days and weeks, we may learn more details about this really disturbing situation. Amid the chaos, my hope is that the attack is an anomaly and that exchanges everywhere will be safe places to conduct business.