Bloody violence in Karachi earlier this month has cut industrial production and shrunk stock-market capitalization, businessmen said.
"Everything has gone out of hand in Karachi," said Kassam Teli, chairman of SITE Association of Industry, the country's largest industrial estate, with 1,880 units.A report on the Karachi Stock Exchange by the research wing of Taurus Securities shows an erosion of at least 32 billion rupees (US$1.03 billion) due to the violence in the country's commercial capital.
Business leaders complained that business activity and industrial production fell sharply in the political and sectarian violence, which has killed at least 167 people.
"We do not have the data of industrial losses yet," Mr. Teli said. ''However, if this trend continues, we will have to start measuring the impact of law and order on our production."
He said average attendance by workers dropped to 60 percent, and less on days when a general strike was called. "Who wants to come to work when his life is not safe?"
The chairman of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, S.M. Muneer, said the violence had dampened hopes for industrialization.
"If no new industry is being set up, how can we become an Asian Tiger?" he asked, alluding to government plans for rapid industrialization. He said the problems of Karachi, with a population of more than 10 million, should be one of the main priorities of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's government.
Ms. Bhutto has spent the last several days meeting city politicians, intellectuals and industrialists on how to end the violence, which she says is helped by neighboring India.
Pakistan Tuesday asked India to close its consulate general in Karachi, accusing the mission of being involved in terrorism and violence. India rejected the charge.