Pakistan's top court on Wednesday summoned the new prime minister to appear later this month to face possible contempt charges, escalating a wrangle over corruption cases against the president.
The Supreme Court -- which has already dismissed prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani over the issue -- summoned his successor Raja Pervez Ashraf on August 27 for ignoring a request to ask Swiss authorities to reopen cases against the head of state.
It is the latest episode in a two-and-a-half-year saga in which the government has resisted demands to have Asif Ali Zardari investigated, arguing that as president he enjoys immunity.
The government is due to become the first in Pakistan's history to complete an elected, full five-year mandate in February 2013, but the showdown could force polls before then.
The court had previously given Ashraf until August 8 to write to Switzerland asking it to reopen the multimillion-dollar graft probes.
"We issue notice to Raja Pervez Ashraf under (the) contempt of court act 2003, read with article 204 of the constitution to show cause as to why he may not be proceeded (against) in contempt of court and (is) not complying (with the) relevant direction of the court," said Judge Asif Saeed Khosa.
"He shall appear in person at the next date of hearing. Hearing adjourned until August 27," the judge added.