Thirteen years ago,Nawaz Sharif was sentenced to life in prison. Today,he is confident of winning a historic third term in the general election and fixing the countrys most intractable problems.
Calm and collected at the end of a quick visit to Islamabad,where he addressed a hot and sweaty hotel meeting room packed with businessmen,the 63-year-old former prime minister presents himself as a statesman-in-waiting.
Our people are very excited. They are waiting for a response from the field and things look good. They,in fact,look better than what they were in 1997, he said,referring to the landslide that last swept him into power.
Businessmen and industrialists traditionally regard Sharifs Pakistan Muslim League-N party as better on the economy than the outgoing Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and he comes back,time and again,to stressing his economic credentials for the May 11 election.
He won admiration for turning Pakistan into a nuclear power in 1998 and building a high-speed motorway from Peshawar to Lahore,his hometown and Pakistans cultural capital on the Indian border.
But for all his promises of rapid and effective change,Sharif is no stranger to allegations of incompetence and graft.
He was first elected in 1990 but sacked three years later on corruption charges. His second term ended in 1999 after a military coup by Gen Pervez Musharraf.