Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has decided to end his self-imposed exile in Dubai and defying death threats he heads back to Karachi.
Pervez Musharraf said the Taliban had tried and failed to kill him, adding that he was taking precautions because his safety could not always be guaranteed.
General Pervez Musharraf plans to lead his party in the May general election.
Meanwhile, 17 soldiers were killed by a suicide bomber in north-west Pakistan overnight.
They were attacked at a security checkpoint in the tribal region of North Waziristan, close to the Afghan border and a known stronghold of the Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked militants.
A recent Taliban video threatened Pervez Musharraf with snipers and suicide bombers.
The former president faces a string of charges including conspiracy to murder, but on Friday the Pakistani authorities granted him protective bail in several outstanding cases, freeing him from immediate arrest once he steps foot in Pakistan.
Pervez Musharraf tweeted a photo of himself aboard the plane, writing: “Settled in my seat on the plane to begin my journey home. Pakistan First!”
A group of about 200 supporters and journalists are travelling with the former military ruler – including party members from the UK, Canada, Switzerland and the US.
Before take-off chants of “Long live Pervez Musharraf” broke out on board.
Some of the general’s supporters wore white armbands saying they were ready to give their lives for him.
But aides confirmed a planned mass rally had been called off because authorities withdrew permission. Instead, they said, a rally would be held at the airport in Karachi upon arrival.
Pervez Musharraf has lived in London and Dubai since stepping down five years ago.
He has vowed to return several times in the past, but those previous attempts have been abandoned.