Sharif, who was exiled to Saudi Arabia after losing power in the bloodless coup, told the Khaleej Times in Dubai during a weekend interview that he would return at the "right time." He told the newspaper he did not think he would be arrested upon his return as was his brother, saying, "Musharraf cannot do it again and again."
Asked about reports of growing religious extremism in Pakistan, Sharif said, "I do not know, but people say that it is government sponsored."
Sharif, who leads his own faction of the Pakistan Muslim League party, said his return to power in Pakistan is less important to him than returning his country to democracy in the October general elections.
He said his faction has not been in touch with Pakistan's military rulers and it is strictly abiding by the charter of democracy.
Benazir Bhutto, another exiled former prime minister, also is reportedly planning to return. Sharif declined comment on reported talks between his party and Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party.