Kayani, Zaheerul Islam on Forbes Most Powerful People list

Published: December 6, 2012

Magazine places Kayani on number 28 and Islam on number 52 on the list. PHOTO: FILE

Pakistan’s army chief Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and spymaster Zaheerul Islam are the only two from the country who have made it to a list led by US president, Pope Benedict XVI, Angela Merkel, Facebook’s founder and other global leaders on Forbes’s ranking of the mightiest earthlings.

The American magazine placed Kayani on the 28th spot for “controlling nuclear weapons and one of the world’s largest standing armies in an unstable country.”

Kayani had earlier given a statement issued by the public relations wing of the Army that caused a stir in the news. He said: “As a nation, Pakistan is passing through a critical phase.

Following Kayani is Inter-Services Intelligence’s (ISI) recently inducted chief, Zaheerul Islam.

The magazine’s 2012 list of the world’s most powerful people also features those who might raise an eyebrow or two: a Mexican drug baron, and the young leader of North Korea, a hermit state assailed for pursuing a nuclear program at the expense of feeding its very poor people.

Last year’s No. 2 on the list, Chinese President Hu Jintao, is among those who fell off the rankings altogether this time. In Hu’s case it is because he’s on his way out of office.

The ranking features 71 names, a figure Forbes said it set as a cutoff because there are an estimated 7.1 billion people in the world and thus the ranking works out to one very heavy hitter for every 100 million people.


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Reader Comments (55)

  • Dajjal
    Dec 6, 2012 - 2:35PM

    Well i am not surprised, he is after all the C.E.O. of Pakistan Armed Forces Limited, which itself is a Fortune 500 company.


  • Parvez
    Dec 6, 2012 - 2:38PM

    Powerful ?…………….it all depends from what point of view this is seen.


  • ishtiaer hussain
    Dec 6, 2012 - 3:10PM

    Americans are mad. They should have placed CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry at 28th and Dr. Faqir Hussain (Registrar Supreme court who is now enjoying his third extention in service) at 52nd in the Forbes list.


  • Saleem
    Dec 6, 2012 - 3:10PM

    Both should be on corruption and abuse of power list as well.


  • Rana
    Dec 6, 2012 - 3:24PM

    I don’t agree with Forbes, they are as useless as our nukes!!


  • vasan
    Dec 6, 2012 - 3:30PM

    Pakistan cannot be proud of this news, because it claims it is a democracy.


  • Nadir
    Dec 6, 2012 - 3:59PM

    Salute to brave generals.


  • sabi
    Dec 6, 2012 - 4:17PM

    And these powerfull men can not save their peopl’s lives from terrorists.OR..they dont want!


  • Zeux
    Dec 6, 2012 - 4:25PM

    Your comment makes no sense.

    Proud of my generals. Carry on the work guys. We the nation support our armed forces.


  • muhammad yasin
    Dec 6, 2012 - 4:28PM

    Kiyani is powerful, not because of his person but because he is heading the most important,organized and most disciplined institutions of this country. Compare other instituions, why judges, the civil bureaucracy and politicns have not been that powerful as has been the case in other democratic countries.Our politicians and civil bureaucrats and prior to 2007 judges wasted no time in changing their loyalties and siding with the mighty one whosoever he may be. How can we forget that when honourable CJ was facing the Generals in Army House in 2007, his respectable colleagues were taking oaths, just not botherting to know,what happened to the CJ. Khars Pirzadas and elder Zardari wasted no time in fleding out of the country, once Bhutto was desposed by Zia. Watoo brought 140 members of Punjab Assembly before GIK to re assure him that he was no more with Nawas Sharif. Why not Kiyani be most powerful when our politicians failed to have consensus on restoration of judges and kiyani had to intervene to avert the long march. Why not kiyani be most powerful when our President and PM have meeting with him on daily basis and seeks his pet and backing to stay in power. This neither happens in india,nor in sri lanka or bangla desh.In india, Army chief meets the PM through the Defencse Minister, have we even seen our Defense Minister visiting GHQ, meeting COAS or sitting in the meeting with PM and President. Being that much powerful, Kiyani deserve all praises and appreciations of the nation that despite facing worst bashing ever faced by any Army Chief in the history of Pakistan, he showed maximum restraints,respected his commitment as a professional solider extending all out support to this shame democracy bestowed on us by our politicians. Forbes is not wrong in its analysis


    Dec 6, 2012 - 4:33PM

    Dear readers: please read full from the Forbes magazine:


    Ashfaq Parvez Kayani : The most powerful man in an unstable country; Pakistan’s de facto leader

    Zaheer ul-Islam : The new head of Pakistan’s notorious intelligence service took command in March. The ISI has played both sides in the war on terror and, as U.S. troops draw out of Afghanistan


  • Emen
    Dec 6, 2012 - 4:41PM

    Pakistan is proud of this news.. Salute to our Army!!!


  • Khawar
    Dec 6, 2012 - 4:47PM

    These rankings won,t bring any prosperity to Pakistan.


  • Raza Khan
    Dec 6, 2012 - 4:48PM

    Sadly we are known in the world for our grade 22 level generals!


  • Ahem
    Dec 6, 2012 - 5:23PM

    The country is in tatters but I’m glad we have it in us to make it onto a list which glorifies those who have the power to make or break (in our case) a nation at will. Well done.


  • Cynical
    Dec 6, 2012 - 5:38PM

    @muhammad yasin

    It’s not a good advertisement for Pakistan. The world at large will interpret it very differently from the way you are looking at it.


  • Ammar
    Dec 6, 2012 - 5:38PM

    @ Dajjal

    Your name says it all


  • globalthinker
    Dec 6, 2012 - 5:42PM

    uncle sargam & maasi museebtain


  • Z.Khan
    Dec 6, 2012 - 5:49PM

    It would have added to the respect of the country if some one due to his/her character traits or competence picked up. Both enjoy influence due to uniform of one the largest armies of the world/having control of nuke and not some thing special in their own personality.


  • roadkashehzada
    Dec 6, 2012 - 5:55PM

    no less than moving up in corruption index or being one of the most dangrous contries to be born. in civilised world, people dont even know names of their cheifs.


  • Proud To Be A Bloody Civilian
    Dec 6, 2012 - 6:06PM

    By seen our Generals making to the list of most powerful men, it has confirmed that they are politicians or mafia boss. They have lost all wars against India in quick-time but won all four wars against democracy and its own people. It’s a only organization that eats bulk of our resources and still end up sleeping with domestic , regional and international terrorism. Army is only well organized political party in Pakistan which has 5,50000 active men who have hands on nuclear weapons. But unfortunately, Indian troops still on Siachen heights despite we have such powerful men heading this organization. Generals’ real power should be seen in the battle field not in running businesses and taking part in politics .


  • Shafique
    Dec 6, 2012 - 6:19PM

    Kayani and Islam find themselves in good company — there is a Mexican drug baron and the brutal and repressive North Korean dictator. What more can Pakistanis ask for? After all, Kayani commands “one of the world’s largest standing armies in one of the most unstable countries”. We get so easily flattered by cheap – usually, negative — titles. Aren’t we a chronically starved nation — starved of food, progress, respect, human decency, stability and anything positive.

    You are right. The world interprets it differenty than the four gullible readers you have cited. .


  • Taha
    Dec 6, 2012 - 6:25PM

    that doesn’t mean we have no reason to be proud of our army. They have done far more for the country than this pathetic governement


  • sam
    Dec 6, 2012 - 6:40PM

    very poor!! no wonder you are from pakistan


  • sunil bhalla
    Dec 6, 2012 - 6:48PM

    Sonia gandhi is 12th powerful indian.
    manmohan singh at 19th
    mukesh ambani at 37
    lakshmi mittal at 47

    Thank god no one from indian military is on this list.


  • saif
    Dec 6, 2012 - 7:10PM

    so what???? at least they should protect their GHQ from so called terrorists…


  • Khalid
    Dec 6, 2012 - 7:19PM

    This list is a joke. Someone someone is making a good living out of just compiling random lists of rich and powerful people.


  • Feroz
    Dec 6, 2012 - 7:20PM

    Yes Taha, they have done a magnificent job in protecting the people from Terrorists. Without them maybe 4 million civilians would have perished instead of 40,000. By the way is there any other country where terrorists have killed more people ?


  • PA Raja
    Dec 6, 2012 - 7:34PM

    Why so proud? have you forgotton, Abbotabad, Salala, GHQ, Mehran, Kamrah and the whole lot….+ our 50k soldiers we lost. Please be fair this is Military Inc.


  • PA Raja
    Dec 6, 2012 - 7:34PM

    very well said, this is the reality…


  • naeem khan Manhattan,Ks
    Dec 6, 2012 - 7:46PM



  • Hamid Hassan Khan
    Dec 6, 2012 - 7:51PM

    Every Soldier and Officer of Pakistan Armed Forces is Great. We Salute them.Ranking is an other thing. Geo Pakistan Army Navy and Air Force...

  • saleem
    Dec 6, 2012 - 8:12PM

    incisive , daring intelectually refreshing comments


  • saleem
    Dec 6, 2012 - 8:20PM

    i salute all those who wrote unflattering comments. this shows that thinking people still exist in pakistan


  • Adeel Zafar
    Dec 6, 2012 - 8:31PM

    Did they mention how both these men’s forces were asleep the night the Seal Six Team intruded our air space and performed an operation and left after a few hours without getting noticed.

    Yeah, that’s about as capable as any useless defence forces can get.

    Also, did they mention how these guys forgot about their massacred men in Salala Checkpost NATO raids… their lives were lost for no cause since all the NATO supplies have resumed from Pakistan again (for a few million dollars)


  • saleem
    Dec 6, 2012 - 8:35PM

    Pakistan is a country where soldier worship is widespread.


  • saleem
    Dec 6, 2012 - 8:48PM

    u r right


  • Tony
    Dec 6, 2012 - 8:52PM

    Is this a joke? Powerful? The country is losing its war on terror. In any civilised country they both would be sacked along with its incapable president n its a PM


  • gp65
    Dec 6, 2012 - 8:52PM

    @Cynical: Don’t know about the other but having observed @Nadir’s comments over a period of time I am prety sure he was sarcastic.


  • Najeebullah
    Dec 6, 2012 - 8:56PM

    This is the prime and biggest problem of Pakistan that the army and ISI chief are still very powerful in this country, Dictator ship still prevails here. No army or Intelligence chief is made powerful in any country in the list. And the only solution to ours and our neighbor miseries is to snatch the power from the army and give it to the 180 million people.


  • qzj00
    Dec 6, 2012 - 9:05PM


    > They have done far more for the country than this pathetic governement

    To me both the Government and the Generals are pathetic. However, I will be more than willing to change my mind if you can enlighten me with some examples of the Generals’ sacrifices/services for the country . . . .(Note: not executing a coup d’etat does NOT count)


  • sensible
    Dec 6, 2012 - 9:07PM

    wonder what was ranking of American general Dave Patereas!


  • i like it
    Dec 6, 2012 - 9:10PM

    these guys are there not because of the good that they have done but the harm that they can cause if they don’t do their job right


  • JOHN
    Dec 6, 2012 - 9:22PM

    forbes forgot Hafees saeed of LET


  • nomi
    Dec 6, 2012 - 9:31PM

    They are on the top list for all the wrong reasons !


  • Zalmai
    Dec 6, 2012 - 10:21PM


    “uncle sargam & maasi museebtain”

    Classic! Best comment I have read so far.


  • politically incorrect
    Dec 6, 2012 - 10:52PM

    On @Nadir being sarcastic.

    On second reading, I think you are right.


  • Shan
    Dec 6, 2012 - 11:46PM

    What is the point to be proud for us? If you see the list, most of them are politicians, industrialists or CEOs of multinational companies.


  • Yusuf
    Dec 6, 2012 - 11:46PM

    Common Pakistani do not read Forbes. Primary education is becoming extinct in Sind Province.


  • Foreign Leg
    Dec 6, 2012 - 11:58PM

    Forbes clearly knows which side the bread is buttered.


  • Awais
    Dec 7, 2012 - 12:48AM

    Why don’t you become COAS ????????


  • Zardari
    Dec 7, 2012 - 1:38AM

    Haha well they aren’t as powerful as me :P


  • alphamale
    Dec 7, 2012 - 2:15AM

    vasan, gp65, cynical, cautious and the rest of the Indian brigade, thanks for your excellent comments.


  • gp65
    Dec 7, 2012 - 5:04AM

    @alphamale: “vasan, gp65, cynical, cautious and the rest of the Indian brigade, thanks for your excellent comments.”

    Can’t speak for others but I had absolutely no comment on this subject. I merely had an observation about the tome of @Nadir’s post and I thought it was sarcastic and shouldn’t be taken at face value.


  • Usman786
    Dec 7, 2012 - 3:58PM

    @qzj00: the govt which they headed were always civilians as ministers who could not much corruption than in times when we donot had military rulers. Atleast they will not sell us like NS or AAZ to pocket dollars or support. This time they are not in the ‘scene’ so see the condition of our economy which was always good under dictators.


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