“Qaidi no 804,” which translates to “Prisoner number 804,” holds a significant place in the life and political journey of Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan. This number represents the prison identity given to Imran Khan when he was incarcerated in Attock Fort in the year 2000. It symbolizes his unwavering determination and resilience in the face of oppressive and corrupt regimes in Pakistan’s history.
Imran Khan, a former cricketer, and the founder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), a political party focused on justice and accountability, has been a vocal critic of both military and civilian governments that have ruled Pakistan for many years. He has consistently championed democracy and human rights.
In 1999, when General Pervez Musharraf seized power through a coup and ousted the elected government of Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan emerged as a staunch opponent of the coup. He called for the restoration of democracy and exposed corruption and mismanagement within Musharraf’s administration.
Imran Khan’s imprisonment in 2000 resulted from his leadership in a protest against Musharraf’s referendum to extend his rule. He was confined in Attock Fort, a notorious prison known for the mistreatment and even deaths of political prisoners. During this time, Imran Khan was assigned the prison number 804 and endured solitary confinement for eight days.
Despite facing numerous hardships, including the denial of basic amenities and physical and mental abuse, Imran Khan did not waver in his principles and commitment. He resisted bribes and threats aimed at making him align with Musharraf’s regime or abandon politics. Instead, he used his time in prison to read, write letters, and find solace in prayer. He drew strength from the support of his followers and well-wishers who rallied outside the prison, chanting slogans in his favor.
After eight days of imprisonment, Imran Khan was released, but his struggle for democracy and justice continued. He faced further arrests, bans, attacks, and allegations in the subsequent years, enduring setbacks and disappointments in elections.
Ultimately, Imran Khan realized his long-standing dream of becoming the Prime Minister of Pakistan in 2018 when his party won the general elections with a majority of seats. He became the first Prime Minister in Pakistan’s history to have been jailed by a military dictator.
Imran Khan’s experience as Qaidi number 804 has remained a driving force and a source of inspiration for his dedication to serving the people of Pakistan with integrity and honesty. He has pledged to combat corruption, poverty, injustice, and terrorism in the country.
Imran Khan has also honored his fellow prisoners who endured their time with him in Attock Fort. His residence in Islamabad is named Zaman Park after one of his cellmates who passed away in prison. Furthermore, his official helicopter carries the designation “Qaidi no 804,” serving as a reminder of his past.
Qaidi number 804 represents more than just a numerical identity for Imran Khan; it embodies a narrative of courage, conviction, and unwavering commitment. It symbolizes hope, transformation, and Pakistan’s journey from dictatorship to democracy.