ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani will be charged with contempt for refusing to reopen a corruption case against the president, officials said.
The contempt of court charge, initiated Thursday, is a significant escalation of tensions between the Pakistani judiciary and the government, The New York Times reported.
The prime minister was ordered to appear before the country's Supreme Court on Feb. 13. If convicted of contempt, Gilani could be sentenced to six months in jail and be disqualified from public office, which could lead to the toppling of the government, the British newspaper The Guardian reported.
The court has has been trying since 2009 to get the government to write to Swiss authorities to restart the prosecution of President Asif Ali Zardari on allegations that he laundered $60 million while his wife, Benazir Bhutto, was prime minister during the 1990s, The Guardian said.
The government has argued Zardari enjoys immunity from prosecution while in office.