Pakistan’s beleaguered President Pervez Musharraf has been named the eighth worst dictator in the world by the widely circulated Parade magazine in New York.
Kim Jong-Il of North Korea tops the magazine’s annual World’s Worst Dictators list for “running the most isolated, repressive regime in the world”.
At number two is Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan. “Under Bashir’s rule, the Darfur region of Sudan continues to be the site of a violent power struggle among government forces and allied militia, rebels and bandits,” the magazine says in its latest edition.
Myanmar’s Than Shwe is considered the third worst dictator because “he ordered troops to fire at the pro-democracy demonstrations” led by Buddhist monks in August and September last.
Musharraf's rank has risen from last year’s 15th placement. Parade explained: “In recent months, Musharraf suspended Pakistan’s constitution, shut down the courts, arrested several thousand dissidents and passed a law removing challenges to his continuation as president.
“He allowed former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto to return to Pakistan but barred Sharif from running in elections. Bhutto was assassinated - an act that some observers tie to Musharraf’s government.”
Others in the list include King Abdullah (No 4) of Saudi Arabia, the country with the “most oppressed women in the world”, Hu Jintao (No 5) of China who “controls all media and represses religion”, and Sayyid Ali Khamenei (No 7) of Iran, where “officials carry out public hangings”.
The Parade magazine claims a readership of 71 million as it is distributed by more than 400 major Sunday newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, The Dallas Morning News and Houston Chronicle.
The magazine was in the news for running an interview in an early January issue with former Pakistan premier Bhutto conducted before she was assassinated in late December.
The magazine chose not to insert a note about her tragic end.