Peshawar Commissioner still in critical condition

An edited version of this article was first published in The Express Tribune on Oct 28, 2013.

Islamabad – Peshawar Commissioner Sahibzada Muhammad Anis remained in critical condition on Sunday, with doctors saying his condition had “worsened” from the previous night.

The commissioner was seriously injured in a “gas leakage” explosion at a basement studio apartment at the Park Tower in Islamabad’s sector F-10 on Saturday evening. A woman, identified as Asghar-un-Nisa, was also in the apartment at the time of the explosion and was hurt in the incident.

Doctors at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), who initially treated Anis at the hospital’s Burns Centre, had said Anis had received 95-100 per cent burns.

The chances of survival for a person with third-degree burns are very little, doctors had said. But instances of burn victims miraculously recovering have been reported worldwide. In most of those reported cases, however, the recovery is a long and difficult process.

On Sunday afternoon, the commissioner’s family moved him to a private hospital near Golra Mor from PIMS.

Doctors at the private hospital confirmed that Anis, a BS-20 officer, was being treated in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit but did not give a decisive statement on his current medical condition.

PIMS doctors had earlier told the media that Anis’s condition had worsened, without giving details of his injuries.

The woman, who had received 45 per cent burns in the incident, is in critical condition as well and is being kept at the PIMS Burns Centre.

The circumstances of the explosion remained mysterious, 24 hours after the incident.

Police claimed the explosion was due to a gas leak in the apartment. A senior police official, who requested anonymity, said the Bomb Disposal Squad has also indicated in its report that the explosion was caused by a gas leak.

The official dismissed rumours that the commissioner might have been at the centre of an assassination attempt made to look like an accident. Police also denied any involvement of explosives.

“We are still examining the site to determine the exact point of the gas leak, but there is no visible indication of use of explosives on the site,” the official said. “Whenever explosives are used, you see some kind of an impact on the walls or the floor in the form of a hole or a pit.”

The walls of the Apartment 17, where the explosion occurred, did not collapse. The front door was ripped away and there were signs of damage inside the apartment, with shattered window glass and ripped mattress, but the bed frame and a TV appeared unmoved by the explosion’s impact.

Security guards and residents said the explosion spread outward and caused damage to nearby apartments with broken windows and doors. They said thick smoke that covered the hallway in front of the apartment after the explosion.

Police claimed the woman was related to the commissioner’s family but the family could not be reached to confirm this information.

According to police, the apartment belonged to a friend of the commissioner.

Sources said the commissioner was staying at the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa House in the capital along with his family and was in town to see-off his daughter, who left for the UK on October 25.

Earlier reports had inaccurately claimed the commissioner’s son was flying to the UK.

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