ISLAMABAD - Former President Asif Ali Zardari could end his brief stint of self-imposed exile before the Pakistan People’s Party’s foundation day later this month, political sources said yesterday.

There have been hints that the reorganisation process of the PPP will be finalised on Zardari’s return. PPP leaders suggested Zardari could possibly cede powers to his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari - like he did when he was the President – to allow him a larger role.

PPP pundits believe Bilawal Bhutto Zardari can be more effective as a powerful chairman than just a brand. The young PPP chief is expected to announce the party’s next policy on PPP’s foundation day on November 30 which will most probably be attended by Zardari. Prior to the announcement, the party will hold a meeting of the Central Executive Committee.

Last year, on the foundation day, Zardari reiterated people alone were empowered to bring about political change through ballot.

The PPP co-head said his party was also conscious of threats to democracy in the name of democracy itself and is determined to foil them.

A senior PPP leader told The Nation, Zardari was prepared to return to the country within days but some party members were against the idea.

“If it were for Zardari, he would catch the first available flight back home. The problem is..... some PPP members think it could be risky. There is a division but Zardari himself wants to come back,” he said.

He said in the eventuality of a decision against Zardari’s return – due to his bad health - the CEC meeting could be held in Dubai before the foundation day ceremony back home.

Zardari made a controversial speech in June warning Generals to stop victimising the PPP or he would expose their misdeeds.

His statement came after a salvo of allegations of corruption, land-grabbing, smuggling of Iranian oil and extortion shot at the PPP-led Sindh government by the paramilitary Rangers.

“Stop victimizing us or we will tear you down brick by brick. We do not want to undermine your establishment. You are already entangled in extremist terrorism, Balochistan insurgency, and Indian threats. So be advised… You have been warned, you have been warned, you have been warned,” were Zardari’s words.

Throwing down the gauntlet, the former president threatened the country’s war machine with dire consequences like ‘exposing’ the alleged corruption of former Generals.

His words were criticised by all and sundry including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who cancelled a scheduled meeting with the PPP leader.

Zardari flew abroad shortly afterwards and issued a variety of damage-control statements in which he highlighted the sacrifices of the armed forces and his respect for the institution.

In September, however, Zardari again termed departments’ activities that “exceed constitutional limits and interference in other institutions’ matters” a bad omen for democracy.

In a statement issued in connection with the International Day of Democracy, Zardari said that elimination of extremism was always good but the constitution should not be breached in this regard – apparently pointing to the Rangers action in Karachi.

“The enemies of the democracy come in different disguises to damage the country. The past has seen several so-called Legal Framework Orders and Provisional Constitutional Orders. Weeding out terrorism is a needed step but breach of the constitution is never a preferred way of achieving goals,” he said.

Another PPP leader said some party members were against Zardari’s return fearing his arrest on corruption related charges.

“The arrest of Dr Asim Hussain is significant and could be the first step towards implicating Zardari. The fears of his arrest are now without reasons,” he added. But, he said, the PPP will not tolerate arrest of its top leaders in ‘fabricated cases.’

PPP spokesman Senator Farhatullah Baber said Zardari was not abroad under any compulsion. He said the party leaders were not afraid of arrests.

“He will definitely come back but the travel plans have not yet been finalised,” he remarked.