Pakistan’s Iftikhar Chaudhry cited as outside candidate for Nobel Peace Prize

October 6, 2008

July 2008 photo of deposed Chief Justice Ifkihar Chaudhry/Athar HussainFormer chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has been cited as an outside candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The recipient of this year’s prize will be announced in Oslo on Oct. 10 from among 197 nominees, with those fighting for human rights among those tipped to win in the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO), an independent research institute, ranks Chaudhry in fourth place, though PRIO director Stein Toennesson says the most likely winner this year will be a Chinese dissident.

“An even more interesting possibility is to award the prize to one of the senior judges, who in several countries have stood up against pressure from the executive, in defence of human rights and against unconstitutional practices,” it says.

“Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the Chief Justice of Pakistan who was unseated by former President Musharraf in 2007, is the most likely candidate, but the French, Italian, British, and Zimbabwean Chief Justices or Supreme Court Presidents have also shown great courage in defending human rights and judicial independence. Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to one or more of them would assist the construction of an international system for the enforcement of human rights.”

Chaudhry supporters at a rally in Lahore in July/Mohsin RazaAfter championing the opposition to former president Pervez Musharraf last year and leading the lawyers’ movement in a campaign for an independent judiciary, Chaudhry’s star has been fading since the election of a new civilian government in February and departure of Musharraf in August. The lawyers’ movement, as this story in the Daily Times says, has now run out of steam.

Chaudhry may have only an outside chance, but winning the Nobel Peace Prize would certainly be a powerful way of getting his star back on the ascendant again. Views please?

And a word of warning. According to this story by Reuters Oslo correspondent John Acher, academics, pundits and bookmakers speculate annually on who will win the prize worth $1.4 million. Their guesses are often widely off the mark since the secretive five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee does not disclose the names of the nominees.

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