Former president and Co-Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari returned Friday to Pakistan in a private jet from Dubai. He returned in the same truck used by Benazir Bhutto, raising the same slogans she raised, and to a similar mood in the gathered crowd. And while he triumphantly waved back at a jubilant crowd many wondered a pertinent question, why did he leave in the first place, and what is this celebration for?

The official narrative of “health related issues” wasn’t really believed by anyone in the country, and the PPP didn’t push it consistently either, settling for the nebulous term of “self-impose exile” instead. If we keep the bigger picture in mind it seems like the PPP co-chairman left the country right after delivering a speech threatening the army with exposure and has only returned now that the old Chief of Army Staff (COAS) is gone. This seems less of a cause for a victory lap and more for a hearty sigh of relief, but the party seems to be in no mood to split hairs. Especially since the party needs things, anything at this point, to galvanise its voter base with.

Asif Ali Zardari may have tempered his tone from the pre-exile days but there were enough mentions of “returning to power” and indirect jibes at the ruling Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) in his speech to excite all party members across the country. With Bilawal Bhutto Zardari spending the better part of last year drumming up support for the PPP, the PML-N still wrestling with the Panama scandal in the courts and parliament, and December 27 only a few days away, the PPP looks poised to make a grand return to the limelight. Mr Zardari’s unexplained health issues have certainly cleared up with impeccable timing.

The importance of timing is not lost on other institutions either it seems. A few hours before the arrival of Asif Ali Zardari in Karachi, Rangers personnel raided his close aide Anwar Majeed’s offices in Karachi and have claimed to recover a large cache of weapons from the premises. The paramilitary group already has Dr Asim Hussain - another close associate of Mr Zardari - in custody despite the PPP’s best efforts, and this strategically timed raid will not go unnoticed by in the midst of all the jubilation.

Where do these new developments leave our Prime Minister? Speaking to journalists accompanying him on his three-day official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina at a breakfast meeting, Mr Sharif said - quite candidly - that “Frankly, I am happy on his return. He should come and take over the reins of his party.” He may be remembering happy memories of the “Charter of Democracy” signed by these two people, but these are different times, with different powers in play.