KARACHI: A mysterious fire erupted at the sealed headquarters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, popularly known as Nine Zero, in Azizabad in the small hours of Friday morning due to what officials described as an electric short-circuit.

However, the Altaf Hussain-led MQM, better known as MQM-London, alleged that the Nine Zero headquarters was set on fire under a pre-planned scheme that aimed at demolishing it.

The Azizabad police said the fire erupted inside the Nine Zero headquarters “due to some short-circuit, causing substantive damages to the property”.

A statement issued by Pakistan Rangers, Sindh stated: “Sindh Rangers jawans reached the spot and cordoned if off. Fire tenders were called while Rangers also joined the fire-fighting efforts. The fire in the building near Azizabad was completely controlled, however cooling work continued. The bomb disposal squad (BDS) was also called.” the statement said.

Azizabad SHO Kamran Haider said the fire erupted in a building located on plots No R 493-494. He said he received information about the fire at around 2:15am. The fire was so powerful that windows and doors of the buildings were blown away and landed at some distance while one wall also collapsed, he said.

He said the houses on both the plots had been sealed for the past several years.

Quoting report of fire officials and BDS, the SHO said a gas leakage and its accumulation might have triggered the fire due to some heat or short-circuit. As gases accumulated in the closed house, the fire broke out with explosions and because of its impact, the windows and doors were destroyed, he said.

The Nine Zero and MQM’s Khurshid Memorial Complex were sealed as a result of a crackdown following Mr Hussain’s Aug 22, 2016 controversial speech.

In a statement released from London, the coordination committee condemned the incident and said the “fire was a man-triggered move”.

Commenting on the police version that an electric short-circuit might cause the fire, the MQM-L said that the Nine Zero had no electricity connection since Aug 22, 2016.

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2022

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