Julie McCarthy

Pakistan's National Assembly has been summoned to elect a new prime minister for the fragile coalition of President Asif Ali Zardari. A consensus candidate, current Textile Industry Minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin, emerged soon after the Supreme Court's dramatic firing of outgoing Premier Yusuf Reza Gilani.

The court disqualified Gilani from office this week for defying court orders to pursue dormant corruption charges against President Zardari.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

With world leaders gathered for a NATO summit in Chicago, high on their agenda is the future of Afghanistan once Western troops withdraw. Among the leaders there is the president of Pakistan. Pakistan has been keeping NATO from using critical military supply routes running through that country to Afghanistan, something that's irritated NATO countries, whose troops are fighting in Afghanistan.

In the chill of the world's highest combat zone lies the prospect of warmer relations. Pakistan's army chief said Wednesday that there's a need to resolve the conflict that has Indian and Pakistani troops facing off at frigid altitudes of up to 20,000 feet in the Himalayan Mountains. An estimated 3,000 Pakistani soldiers have died from the atrocious weather conditions since deployments on the Siachen glacier began in 1984.

Extending the political crisis that has churned up a media frenzy and put the nation on edge, Pakistan's Supreme Court has given the Prime Minister ten more days to answer contempt of court charges

Prime Minister Yusef Reza Gilani drove himself to the imposing Supreme Court building framed by stormy skies this morning. Facing contempt charges, he stood in the well of the packed court and defended his refusal to re-open a graft case against his boss, President Zardari.

The news today that Pakistan's cabinet has moved to normalize trade with India — giving its neighbor "Most Favored Nation" status — is being viewed as a positive first step toward the possible normalization of diplomatic relations between the two nuclear rivals.

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