ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will undergo an open heart surgery next week – most probably on Tuesday.

The news – broke by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on a private TV channel and later confirmed by PM’s media office – was received by the people at large with great concern. It prompted calls for prayers and wishes for his wellbeing.

PM Nawaz has been in London for medical treatment since May 22. This is his second visit in less than two months, a period of time marked by pressure on him after revelations about his children’s offshore companies.

“Prayers are the most effective and potent medicine. Millions will pray for him so he will be fine,” PM’s daughter Maryam Nawaz tweeted yesterday, confirming that her father will undergo open heart surgery on Tuesday.

Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto in a tweet also asked the nation to pray for the well being of the prime minister. Other political, social and religious leaders also wished the PM early recovery.

Maryam said Nawaz is expected to stay in hospital for one week and return in the light of the doctors’ advice.

However, some other PML-N sources said the prime minister’s stay in London could extend up to a month and he could not return back home before Eid.

He would likely to travel to Saudi Arabia to spend the last 10 days of Ramazan in Madina – a practice he has been doing for some years.

The PM is to stay away during a very crucial time when the federal cabinet is going to approve the budget document.

The party sources said in his absence the governmental affairs would be looked after by a committee under Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who is working as the sheet-anchor for the ruling party and spearheading almost all the important issues facing the government.

Legal experts said as per the constitution, a senior minister looks after the matters in the absence of PM. Since no formal notification of a senior minister was issued, it was decided that a committee under the finance minister would do the job.

Earlier, the government rescheduled meeting of National Economic Council for May 30. The sources said such sittings would be looked after by the committee under Dar.

It is the constitutional requirement that the NEC under the prime minister with all the four chief ministers and federal ministers would formally approve the Annual Development Programme and macroeconomic framework.

The sources said that earlier the option of PM’s leading these meetings through video link was also under consideration but the committee was formed due to his health condition.

Recently the most troubling matter for the PM has been the documents from the Mossack Fonseca law firm in Panama which leaked last month showing his sons, Hassan and Hussain, and his daughter, Maryam, owned at least three offshore holding companies registered in the British Virgin Islands.

Nine opposition parties joined hands to demand a probe against the PM and others named in the Panama leaks.

Nawaz and his family have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, saying that assets mentioned in the leaked papers were legally acquired through the family's network of businesses and industries in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

But opposition, especially the PTI says it won’t accept any lame excuses and do everything possible to ensure that a fair investigation is carried out against the prime minister’s family.