Nawaz returns to take fourth shot at power.

ISLAMABAD -- In a political spectacle, the three-time former premier Nawaz Sharif is all set to make his long-anticipated return to the country on Saturday (today), ending his four-year self-imposed exile in London.

The PML-N supremo is stepping onto Pakistan's soil to marshal his political party for political influence and take a fourth shot at power. His homecoming comes as the country veers toward high-stakes general elections next year, setting the stage for a gripping political showdown.

Threatened with arrests and dogged by high-profile corruption charges, Nawaz has sat out the last four years in London after he was granted temporary leave to travel abroad for medical reasons in 2019. The last door to his return was cracked open recently after being granted pre-emptive bail.

However, his return couldn't have been timed more dramatically as it aligns with the incarceration of his primary rival, ex-PM Imran Khan, and the disarray within Imran's political party in the wake of the May 9 incidents.

In a fascinating twist, despite the PTI chief's imprisonment, his popularity remains undiminished. It's against this backdrop that the PML-N sees Nawaz as the only figure holding the key to rekindling the public's faith as the elections edge closer.

Read Nawaz's return a big test for judiciary: PTI

Despite all the preparation, it is unclear how much actual support Nawaz can muster. He will be throwing himself at the mercy of voters.

Nawaz "will need to re-energise a support base at a moment when the party's popularity has taken big hits thanks to Imran Khan's large vote bank," said Michael Kugelman, South Asia Institute Director at The Wilson Centre. "For Sharif, after the immediate euphoria of his return wears off, he will face an uphill battle. The honeymoon won't last long."

Political resurgence

With the objective of political resurrection in mind, the party has been organising an extravagant reception, making arrangements for the party leader to address the supporters at Minar-e-Pakistan today.

Nawaz's resurgence isn't new; he's a seasoned political survivor, having defied the odds multiple times. This time, however, it carries extraordinary weight as he returns to the political fray four years after being ousted and disqualified in 2017 due to the infamous Panamagate scandal.

His departure from the prime minister's office was marked by the rallying cry of 'vote ko izzat do' (respect the vote). He even took to the streets, openly naming top...

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