About a decade ago, Pervez Musharraf was a powerful president, torn between complicated ties with the United States and rising Islamic militants at home.
After four and a half years of self-imposed exile, the former Pakistani president hopes to reassert his power.
Musharraf returned to Karachi on Sunday to help his political party gain momentum prior to the May general election.
The retired general, who wrested power in a bloodless coup in 1999 and lost it nine years later, acknowledges that happens next is uncertain.
"It is risky, certainly," he said.
"But when I formed this party, the point was to go back and fight the elections. Why I'm going back is to do something for the country. The cause is much greater than self. Therefore, I'm prepared to take the risks for the sake of my country."
He may not find a warm reception. Last year, Musharraf scuttled his plans to return after being warned against doing so by the military.
"There were indications that they didn't want me to come, and my own colleagues told me not to come," he acknowledged. "Therefore, I changed my mind."
This time, he said, he will be protected by his own private security agents as well as by government security.
Pakistan's upper house of parliament passed a nonbinding resolution in January 2012 demanding Musharraf be arrested and tried for treason for unconstitutional acts during his regime.
Musharraf's lawyer obtained pre-arrest bail for him on Friday, which means he will not be arrested for at least 15 days, but must appear in court.
But Human Rights Watch said Saturday that the Pakistani government should hold Musharraf accountable for human rights abuses once he returns.
"Musharraf should not be allowed to elude the serious legal proceedings against him on his return to Pakistan," said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch.
"Only by ensuring that Musharraf faces the well-documented outstanding charges against him can Pakistan put an end to the military's impunity for abuses."
Under Musharraf, the country's military and its intelligence agencies "committed widespread human rights violations, including the enforced disappearances of thousands of political opponents, particularly from Balochistan province, and tortured hundreds of Pakistani terrorism suspects," Human Rights Watch said.
His goal, Musharraf said, is to help lift his country from its malaise.
"My motivation is to go back and correct the situation, bring it back to the level where I left it."
He left it and went into self-imposed exile, largely in London, after the 2008 elections.
But he never gave up hopes of returning to the political stage.
In late 2010, he launched the All Pakistan Muslim League party with a view to running for office in 2013.
His years leading the country earned mixed reviews.
Under his leadership, Pakistan attained respectable economic growth rates and established a generally favorable investment climate. Along with that came a growing middle class, a more aggressive media, and a more assertive judiciary.
"He brought parliamentary reforms; he brought women into the parliament," said Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, director of the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency in an interview last year.