Former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif (R) waves to supporters as he leaves the stage during a rally in Gujrat city in Punjab province on August 11, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Pakistan’s anti-corruption agency is set to open a criminal investigation against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and current Finance Minister Ishaq Dar after the ex-premier was ousted from power by the country’s Supreme Court over corruption charges. 
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) said in a statement on Thursday that “the chairman (of) NAB directed that the prosecution of the cases will be followed up vigorously in the concerned Accountability Courts.”
The agency added that its investigation would rely on the evidence collected by a Supreme Court-appointed six-man panel that was investigating the Sharif family’s wealth.
Sharif, who is currently in London while his wife undergoes cancer treatment in the UK capital, was disqualified from office following a landmark ruling by Pakistan’s top court in late July.
The Supreme Court ousted Sharif after an investigation into corruption allegations against him and his family, bringing his historic third term in power to an unceremonious end. He served three separate stints as premier but never completed a full term in office.
In its ruling, the court referred all material gathered in the investigation to the NAB court, and recommended opening cases against Sharif, his three children and Dar.
Pakistani paramilitary soldiers and policemen cordon off the main entrance of the Supreme Court building during a hearing on the Panama Papers case in Islamabad on July 28, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The court ruling against Sharif was apparently based on Panama Papers leaks that unveiled the Sharif family’s offshore finances.
The leaks in April 2016 appeared to show that three of Sharif's children owned offshore companies and assets not shown on his family's wealth statement.
Sharif, his family, and Dar have denied any wrongdoing.
Sharif’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), elected one of his loyalists, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, as his replacement within days of the court decision.
Sharif's aides say he shows no signs of leaving politics and he recently called the court ruling against him "an insult to the mandate of 200 million voters." Sharif also nicknamed the Lion of Punjab has pledged to keep up his quest for justice.
The developments, however, will add further pressure on the ruling PML-N party ahead of elections due next year.
With corruption allegations engulfing the powerful Sharif family -- a dominant force in the country's politics for the last three decades -- cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan is hoping to win support for his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. The grassroots PTI has long campaigned on an anti-corruption platform.

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