Pakistan’s highest court said on Thursday it would charge Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani with contempt of court for refusing to reopen a corruption case against his boss, President Asif Ali Zardari.
Thursday’s court’s decision follows an attempt by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s lawyer to avoid the charge in a hearing before the judges.
The court ordered Mr Gilani to appear before it on 13 February. If convicted he could face six months in jail and would be barred from office.
The court order was a significant escalation of long-simmering tensions between the judiciary and the government and threatened to plunge the country into fresh political turmoil as its leaders debate the contours of a new strategic relationship with the United States.
The court ordered the government to write to Swiss authorities over two years ago to reopen a corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari dating back to the late 1990s.
The government has refused to prosecute President Asif Ali Zardari, saying he has immunity as head of state.
Gilani appeared before the Supreme Court Jan 19 in the contempt case for not acting against President Zardari for corruption and defending his move on the ground that the constitution provided immunity to the president.
Mr Zardari has rejected the corruption charges as politically motivated.