In his first address since returning to Pakistan from self-exile, former President Pervez Musharraf declared his intention to run for office, saying he defied risks to "save" the country.
Musharraf landed in Karachi on Sunday after more than four years in exile. He faces criminal charges, and the Taliban have vowed to unleash a "death squad" to assassinate him.
However, he said, he does not plan to flee again.
"I have put my life in danger and have come to Pakistan -- to you to be the savior of this country," he said at the airport. "I have come to save Pakistan."
He chided people who had doubted that he would return.
"There were rumors that I would not come -- where are those people now?" he asked. "I am here. I have returned."
At the airport, crowds danced, waved the nation's green flag and chanted Musharraf's name. Some people carried giant posters, plastered with his face.
"Inshallah (God willing) we will be successful if I have your support," he said.
After his statement, he was whisked away to an undisclosed location for safety reasons.
Police hovered nearby, guns slung from their shoulders.
Musharraf resigned as president of the south Asian nation five years ago and went into exile in London and Dubai. He hopes to reassert his influence and lead his party in May elections.
His return comes with complications. Government officials have said he would be arrested as soon as he sets foot in the nation while the Pakistani Taliban have vowed to assassinate him.
However, his party says it has taken pre-emptive measures to ward off a potential arrest.
"Musharraf has been granted bail in advance of his arrival to Pakistan. We have made sure that he is not arrested and his return home will be smooth," said Jawed Siddiqui, a member of the former president's party, All Pakistan Muslim League.
His lawyers paid an unknown amount of bail, which means Musharraf will not be arrested for at least 15 days, but must appear in court.
Musharraf's return home comes with a lot of uncertainties.
As he boarded a flight from Dubai International Airport, Musharraf said he was not nervous, but was concerned about the unknown.
His wife, Sehba, had a different answer when asked if she was worried.
"Who wouldn't be?" she said.
Last year, he scuttled plans to return home after the military warned him not to.
"There were indications that they didn't want me to come, and my own colleagues told me not to come," Musharraf said. "Therefore, I changed my mind."
This time, he said, he will be protected by government security and his private security agents.
Musharraf landed in Karachi on a commercial airline. He said in a statement he would be accompanied by 200 expatriates from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates.
In 1999, Musharraf, then chief of Pakistan's army, became its president in a bloodless military coup. He remained in power until resigning five years ago, a period that included the U.S.-led invasion of neighboring Afghanistan.
A few months before he left office, Benazir Bhutto -- who was Pakistan's first elected female prime minister -- was killed in a suicide bomb attack as she was wrapping up a campaign rally in Rawalpindi.