Barack Obama leads 2012 Forbes power list, Manmohan Singh 19th

Barack Obama

Despite tension over drone strikes, Kayani remains a key ally in the war on terror," Forbes said, adding that a lowpoint for Kayani this past year came when the country's Supreme Court issued a series of rulings holding the military accountable for human rights abuses and political meddling.

Zaheer ul-Islam, the head of Pakistan's notorious intelligence service ISI, has been ranked 52nd on the list.

"The ISI has played both sides in the war on terror and, as US troops draw out of Afghanistan, will be hugely influential in determining the region's future," Forbes said.

Islam's high point in 2012 was his first official visit to the US for talks with then counterpart in CIA General David Petraeus.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who came in at the 25th spot, is one of the youngest persons on the list at age 29. He dropped significantly from last year's top-ten ranking after Facebook's much-anticipated IPO turned out to be a flop.

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff (18) is one of the list's biggest gainers. At the midpoint of her first term, Rousseff's emphasis on entrepreneurship has prompted a slew of new startups and energized Brazilian youths, Forbes said.

Apple CEO Tim Cook (35) made a big upward move too. A year after he succeeded iconic founder Steve Jobs, the company is the most valuable in the world and Apple stock hit an all-time high in September, reaching above USD 700 a share.

New members of the list include LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman who is ranked 71. Forbes said Hoffman is the world's most powerful venture capitalist and the most-connected man in Silicon Valley. Making his debut on the list at rank 66 is Elon Musk, the entrepreneur behind PayPal and Tesla Motors who is the most powerful man in space.

"His company SpaceX is a leader in the private space industry, and with that business set to boom, Musk stands to make out like a 19th-century railway tycoon," Forbes added.

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