President Asif Ali Zardari was criticized when he refused to cut short his trip as his country was gripped by devastating floods that have killed at least 1,600 people and affected 13 million.
Islamabad has said that the floods represent the nation's worst natural disaster
President Zardari embarked on his trip to France, Britain and Syria at the end of July when heavy rains had already began. He was in France when floods inundated much of the northwest of Pakistan, in what has been called the nation's worst natural disaster ever.
Zardari's critics said he should be in the country in this hour of need and his government was criticized for its weak response to the flooding. Last Saturday, as the president addressed the British-Pakistani community in the West Midlands city of Birmingham, a protester even threw a shoe at him.
Water-borne diseases have started spreading in flood-affected areas
Some analysts said Zardari's refusal to heed the criticism is a grave "mistake" as it comes when his popularity ratings are at their lowest yet.
TV channels claim blackout
However, Zardari has insisted that his trip helped to raise more awareness about the scale of the devastation in Pakistan. In a bid to do some damage control, the president's office has indicated that he will visit the disaster-hit areas as soon as possible to get a first-hand understanding of the devastation.
On Tuesday, two key Pakistani television channels claimed that their offices had been shut down by activists of the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP) because they had telecast reports against the president.
The managing director of one Geo TV, which remained off air in Karachi and other parts of Sindh province on Tuesday, told AFP that this was the result of a report about the shoe-throwing incident in Birmingham.
The government has denied any involvement in the shutdown.
Massive response needed
Zardari's return to Pakistan comes as thousands have fled Muzaffargarh, a major city in central Pakistan, which is threatened by the swollen rivers. Thousands have taken refuge in the nearby city of Multan.
The Pakistani army hands out relief supplies to survivors of the floods
A spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Pakistan said that with the latest evacuations "an estimated 14 million people were affected, of which 1.8 million were homeless."
Another UN official said an estimated six million of those affected were in need of direct humanitarian assistance.
The world organization is expected to ask donor nations for several hundred million dollars for the relief efforts.
Editor: Anne Thomas