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Karachi Clash – Is Pakistan on the verge of civil war?

Karachi Clash - Is Pakistan on the verge of civil war?

Pakistan's financial capital Karachi, which is also the capital of Sindh province, is caught in a vortex of uncertainty and violence. The city saw two explosions in the last two days besides much political drama and unconfirmed news reports of a civil war.

Five people were killed and 20 injured in an explosion in a multi-story building in Karachi's Gulshan-i-Iqbal area on Wednesday. Though the police is investigating the incident, a senior police official told Pakistan's <i>Dawn </i>newspaper that the blast "seems to be a cylinder blast."

The blast was so powerful that buildings and vehicles parked nearby were badly damaged. Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) has directed the Karachi commissioner to submit a detailed report over the incident.

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A day earlier, five people were injured after an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded at a bus terminal near the Sheerin Jinnah Colony. A bicycle parked near the gate of the terminal exploded, possibly through a remote-controlled device.

The city has been in turmoil with tension running high not just between Pakistan's numerous political parties but also between the Sindh police and the Pakistani Army. There were rumors on social media that "civil war" had broken out in Karachi between Sindh police and the army.

Pakistani opposition parties had made allegations that the army had kidnapped Sindh police chief Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar and forced him to arrest Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Mohammad Safdar, the husband of PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz. He was reportedly arrested from a hotel room after a coalition of Pakistani opposition parties had organised a massive rally in Karachi against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

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The controversy over the alleged kidnapping of the Sindh police chief, reportedly by the Army Rangers, led to the senior officers of the Sindh police department going on mass leave. They police officers said that they felt demoralized over the way their chief was manhandled and humiliated.

The arrest of Safdar came as an acute embarrassment for the PPP, the ruling party in Sindh, which is also a part of the massive opposition coalition – the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) against Prime Minister Khan.

Worried by the fast-deteriorating situation in Karachi, Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa ordered an inquiry into the FIR registered against Maryam Nawaz and the arrest of her husband Safdar.

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The political drama over Safdar's arrest has added fuel to fire in a charged environment in Pakistan where the political parties have mounted a collective offensive against the Khan government for its inept handling of the country during the coronavirus crisis, increasing financial turmoil and a crackdown on opposition parties..