Pakistani school girl Malala Yousafzai, whom the Taliban shot and threatened to kill for her advocacy for education for girls, did not win the Nobel Peace Prize despite being viewed by some as the favorite. NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports.
The decision not to reward Pakistani teen activist Malala Yousafzai with the Nobel Peace Prize was met with disappointment and derision across the world, but at least one group was pleased: The one that tried to kill her.
The Pakistani Taliban called the decision "very good news" and praised the committee for "not selecting this immature girl for this famous award," according to a statement by spokesman Shahidullah Shahid.
Sixteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban for speaking out against Pakistani militants and promoting education for girls.
Yousafzai had been the bookmakers' favorite to win the prize for her campaign for girls' right to education, but she was edged out by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in an announcement Friday.
After receiving death threats from the Taliban for defying the Islamist militant group with her outspoken views on the right to education, the 16-year-old was shot a year ago while on a school bus near her village in Swat in northwestern Pakistan.
She recovered after she was flown to Britain for surgery, but the militants, known as Tehreek-e-Taliban, have vowed to try again.
"If we get another chance, we will definitely kill her and that will make us feel proud," Shahid said.
The also have reportedly threatened to kill the shopkeepers in her home country if they are found selling the teenager’s new book, "I Am Malala."
A Twitter account for the Malala Fund congratulated the weapons watchdog on their selection.
Yousafzai started her campaigning by writing a blog in 2009 in which she described how the Taliban prevented girls like her from going to school. She said being shot had only strengthened her resolve.
There was also widespread support for Malala in Pakistan and despite her loss the country’s politicians were quick to pay tribute to her.
"Malala is a beacon of light for and an example to be emulated by others for education, she is a proud for Pakistan,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told the country’s state TV station, PTV.
Another prominent Pakistani politician Sherry Rehman questioned the judges’ decision on Twitter.
“Really? This award too is now loaded with political concerns: Nobel Peace Prize goes to Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons” she wrote.
Really?This award too is now loaded with political concerns: Nobel Peace Prize goes to Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons— sherryrehman (@sherryrehman) October 11, 2013
The OCPW, based in The Hague in the Netherlands, has about 500 staff and an annual budget of around $100 million. It will now claim the $1.25 million prize.
The chemical weapons watchdog was formed in 1997 but has come into the spotlight this year as reports of chemical weapons use in Syria have surfaced. The OPCW currently has a team of inspectors working to destroy the stockpiles held by Syrian President Bashar Assad, and Thorbjørn Jagland, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said recent events in that country, “underlined the need to enhance the effort to do away with chemical weapons.
“The Nobel committee has through numerous prizes underlined the need to do away with nuclear weapons,” he said. “By means of the present award to OPCW, the committee is seeking to contribute to the elimination of chemical weapons.”
The OPCW's role is to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention, which 189 member states have signed.
On its website, the organization says it is "working together to achieve a world free from chemical weapons."
Since its foundation, it has conducted more than 5,000 inspections in 86 countries.
“The decision by the Nobel Committee to bestow this prize on the OPCW is a great honor,” Ahmet Üzümcü, the Director-General of the OPCW said in a later press conference, adding that he was looking forward to accepting the award.
“The events in Syria are a reminder that there is much work to be done,” he said. “We are only a small organization and working to realize the end of chemical weapons worldwide, we rely on the preparation of our staff.”
Dr. Denis Mukwege, who has helped thousands of rape victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was considered another strong contender for this year's prize.
Friends of Mukwege said they were "disappointed" he had not won but that the recognition he’d received had helped highlight his “amazing work.”
“The OPCW is an important cause, but he puts the spotlight on a conflict that has been neglected by the international community for a long time,” Maria Bard, an advocacy officer with Swedish charity PMU that helps to fund his work with the Panzi Hospital, told NBC News.
“Even though we are all disappointed that he didn’t get the prize the nomination has put a lot of attention on the conflict and that there is stronger political will to address that,” Bard who attended the award ceremony with Dr. Mukwege, added.
Mukwege founded the Panzi Hospital in the war torn central African republic in 1999 and has since treated thousands of women who were gang raped in the country where the use of rape as a weapon has been widely reported.
The U.N. estimates more than 200,000 Congolese women are rape survivors and the hospital in Bukavu, to the east of the country has achieved such renown that many rape victims have traveled hundreds of miles to be treated there.
NBC News Fakhar ur Rehman and Reuters contributed to this report.
This story was originally published on Fri Oct 11, 2013 5:07 AM EDT