2 February 2012 Last updated at 08:47 ET
Mr Gilani must appear before the court (ra trước tòa) to be charged
Pakistan’s Supreme Court (Tòa Tối cao) is to charge (cáo buộc) Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani with contempt for failing to (không chịu) reopen corruption cases (mở lại án kiện đối với) against the president.
Mr Gilani must appear before the court on 13 February. If convicted he faces jail and being barred from office (không được tham gia chính quyền).
The prime minister has refused to ask Swiss officials (các viên chức Thụy Sĩ) to reopen a corruption case (án kiện tham nhũng) against President Zardari, saying he has immunity (có quyền miễn trừ) as head of state.
The president rejects (bác bỏ) the corruption charges as politically motivated (có động cơ chính trị).
The BBC’s Orla Guerin in Islamabad says the Supreme Court decision is another twist in a case (một biến chuyển mới của vụ án ) which could bring down (làm mất chức, làm sụp đổ) the prime minister and his government.
Recent weeks have seen (đã có) intense political uncertainty (bất ổn chính trị) in Pakistan, with the government at loggerheads (đương đầu) with the country’s powerful military as well as the judiciary (giới tư pháp).
M Ilyas Khan BBC News, Islamabad
The court’s decision is likely to (có khả năng làm) aggravate tensions between the government and the judiciary (bộ máy tư pháp) just when a three-way confrontation (sự đối đầu giữa 3 phe) involving the military as well had appeared to be easing (dịu đi).
Were the prime minister convicted, it would be months before he is actually ousted, given the legal procedures involved. Parliament would then have to elect a new leader of the house to replace him for just a few short months before elections due in (mà theo kế hoạch sẽ được tổ chức vào) 2013 .
For this reason, and because of the Supreme Court’s persistence with cases against top government figures, the court orders have become increasingly divisive (càng gây chia rẽ).
Many point out that (nhiều người chỉ ra rằng) the court has not pursued cases against military officers (sĩ quan quân đội) and opposition figures with the same vigour (với cùng mức độ hăng hái, sốt sắn đó).
Although tension with the military appears to have subsided (eased), critics argue that in pursuing the prime minister the Supreme Court is doing the army’s bidding (yêu cầu, ý muốn của giới quân nhân), our correspondent says.
Pakistan has had three military coups since independence in 1947 but analysts believe the army has little appetite (không thích thú mấy) for a takeover (tiếp quản, giành lấy quyền kiểm soát) now. Most observers predict an early general election later this year.
‘PM must be present’
“We are satisfied that prima facie (thoạt nhìn) there is a case for further proceeding into the matter,” Judge Nasir-ul-Mulk said after Thursday’s hearing.
He said the prime minister was required to be in court to hear the charges against him on 13 February.
Mr Gilani’s lawyer, Aitzaz Ahsan, said he would advise him to appeal against the charge.
Critics (giới phân tích chính trị) accuse the military and judiciary of a witch-hunt (cuộc săn lùng phù thủy)
Mr Gilani has already appeared before the court – on 19 January – when he refused to back down (lùi bước).
He would be the first serving Pakistani prime minister to be convicted (kết án) of contempt (coi thường pháp luật). The Supreme Court charged former PM Nawaz Sharif with contempt in 1998 but he was not found guilty.
Correspondents say Mr Gilani can continue as prime minister while court proceedings (thủ tục của tòa án) take place.
Only if he is found guilty and when he has exhausted (cạn hết, sử dụng hết) the appeals process, would he face disqualification (bị truất tính cách ..) from holding public office (nắm giữ địa vị công quyền) for a period of five years.
At the centre of the dispute is the record of Mr Zardari and his late wife, Benazir Bhutto, who were found guilty in absentia by a Swiss court in 2003 of laundering (hoạt động rửa tiền) millions of dollars in kickbacks (hàng triệu đô la tiền lại quả) from Swiss firms (các hãng Thụy Sĩ) while they were in government (in office, đang cầm quyền, lúc tại vị).
They appealed and Swiss officials dropped the case (hủy bỏ vụ kiện) in 2008 at the request of the government led by the Pakistan People’s Party of Mr Zardari.
The case was one of thousands dropped under an amnesty (ân xá) that allowed Ms Bhutto to return from self-imposed exile (tự ý lưu vong) and run for election in 2008. She was assassinated shortly after returning.
However in 2009 Pakistan’s Supreme Court declared the amnesty unconstitutional, leaving those covered by it open to prosecution.
Mr Zardari, nicknamed Mr Ten Percent (Ông Mười Phần Trăm) for his allegedly corrupt dealings (các vụ làm ăn tham nhũng), spent years in prison (từng ở tù 7 năm) in Pakistan but was never convicted.