ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Friday warned that the countdown has begun for ruling party after his father Asif Ali Zardari’s return from self-exile.

Zardari arrived in Karachi to a resounding welcome and vowed to take hold of the power again after the party badly performed in the last general elections.

Sources said that Zardari may not stay in Pakistan for long as he was expected to fly back to Dubai on December 30 but was likely to return soon.

During his week-long stay in Pakistan, Zardari will jointly preside over a meeting of the PPP Central Executive Committee at Naudero with Bilawal.

Bilawal, who accompanied his father from Dubai was confident the government will be under pressure after Zardari’s return. “Aik (one) #Zardari, Sab pay bari (beats all). Countdown for Riawind starts from today. #GoNawazGo,” he tweeted.

Separately he said: “If Zardari is in Pakistan, our four demands will be fulfilled soon”.

Bilawal had earlier announced that if his four demands were not met by December 27, the party would launch an “anti-government drive”. The four demands include the appointment of a full-time foreign minister, implementation of the decision of a multi-party conference chaired by Zardari on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the formation of a parliamentary committee on national security and adoption of a PPP-drafted bill on Panama Leaks probe.

Earlier, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif welcomed Zardari’s return and advised him to take reign of the PPP – ostensibly pointing to the hostile attitude of Bilawal.

Zardari had been a strong advocate of reconciliation in the past, but, the PPP sources said that he had changed his mind and agreed to follow Bilawal’s aggressive policy, a year before the general elections – to be held in 2018.

Former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf told The Nation that the PPP would be much more active in 2017 than the last couple of years. “We are entering the election year, so this is time to mobilise workers. We don’t want to topple the government but they forced us to end the politics of reconciliation,” he said.

Ashraf said a final strategy of the PPP would be finalised on December 27 after the CEC meeting. He said that Zardari and Bilawal were “completely on the same page” over running the party affairs.

On his return, Zardari addressed a welcome rally and criticised the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. “I am confident the PPP will rise to power again,” he said. “The political actors must know I had not fled. We are Bhuttos, we will live here and die here,” he said.

Zardari, who is likely to announce the party’s decision to launch Bilawal in the National Assembly through a by-election in the coming weeks, said the PPP would start a “democratic struggle” inside the parliament as the work supporters chanted “Go Nawaz Go” slogans.

Bilawal will possibly replace Khurshid Shah as the opposition leader in the National Assembly to give a tough time to the government.

PPP leader Senator Rehman Malik told The Nation that Zardari and Bilawal would jointly lead the PPP’s revival in Punjab and other provinces. “Bilawal’s policies are backed by Zardari, there are no differences between them on how to prepare for the elections and how to run the party,” he said.

The lawmaker said that Zardari’s return had mobilised the workers. “Our activists and leaders are charged. We will not let that momentum go down,” he said.

The sources said the government was trying to convince Zardari to accept an offer where the majority of the PPP demands will be met immediately. But this offer had been on the table for a few weeks and Bilawal had rejected it.