While a majority of Pakistanis (59%) think Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif genuinely had a health issue, a little more than one-third believed the premier used his health scare to divert attention from the Panama Leaks probe, according to a Gilani Research Foundation survey carried out by Gallup Pakistan.

The study used a nationally representative sample of 1,252 men and women from across the four provinces during June 06 – June 13, 2016. “Some people claim that the Prime Minister’s operation is just an excuse to divert attention from the Panama Leaks scandal. Others believe he is genuinely suffering from ill-health. What is your opinion on this?” the survey question asked.

The results revealed that fifty-nine per cent of the respondents believed that it was a genuine health issue, while 38 per cent said that it was an excuse to divert attention from the Panama Leaks scandal. Three per cent did not know, or did not wish to answer. The error margin was estimated to be approximately ± 2-3 per cent at 95 per cent confidence level.

This means that 59 per cent Pakistanis think that the Prime Minister genuinely had a health issue, whereas a little more than 1/3rd (38 per cent) believed he used his health scare to divert attention from the Panama Leaks probe.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had said in response to the leaks that he would resign if any wrongdoing is proved against him before the commission formed to investigate his offshore wealth.

“I challenge those accusing me of wrongdoing to prove that before the commission and if anything is proved, I will step down without any delay,” Nawaz Sharif said while addressing the nation.

In midst of the political storm whipped up by the Panama leaks, it was announced in May that the premier will be flying to London for a medical check-up. Soon after his arrival in London, Maryam Nawaz Tweeted that the PM [is] undergoing open heart surgery.

The survey was carried out by the Gilani Research Foundation, which is a not for profit public service project that aims to provide social science research to students, academia, policy makers and concerned Pakistani citizens across the globe. It is headed by Dr. Ijaz Shafi Gilani who has considerable experience in the field of opinion polling in Pakistan, which led him to establish Gallup Pakistan in 1980. Gilani, a PhD holder from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has taught at leading universities in Pakistan and abroad and currently serves as the Chairman of Gallup Pakistan.