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Pakistani general officers in khaki uniforms

Khakistocracy (from khaki and kakistocracy) is a portmanteau word used to refer to the military rule of a country often in collusion with the elite and business classes. This is primarily done to garner support and to perpetuate the military regime. This has been observed in countries as diverse as Nigeria, Pakistan, Egypt, Portugal, Thailand, Iraq, and North Korea.

Khakistocracy refers to khakis, the tan-green camouflage colour used in most modern army uniforms. It may have originated as an ironic pun from kakistocracy, which means government by a nation's worst or least-qualified citizens.[1]


Nigerian author Helon Habila uses it to refer to the military despots of Nigeria in his first novel 'Waiting for an Angel', published in 2003:[2]

The "khakistocracy," Habila's term for Sani Abacha and the other despots in olive drab who robbed Nigeria blind, finally stepped aside in 1999. Since then, Nigerians like Habila have started to come to grips with the recent past. "Waiting for an Angel," the 35-year-old Habila's first novel, is a heartfelt remembrance of those dark years and a passionate rebuke to the generals who tried to quash ordinary Nigerians' aspirations.

The term shows up again in a Nigerian context in 2005, in a letter by Ikhenemho Okomilo:[3]

October holds memorable significance in my diary. It’s of course time of year to reflect on the state of our national journey since independence, which many of us still regard with great patriotic zeal despite the fact that the elapsing 45 years of unparalleled khakistocracy has condemned Nigerians to seeming perpetual purposelessness, not minding the lumpish submission to an even firmer neo-colonial grip.

The Raconteurs, an American rock band, use the term in their song "Intimate Secretary", from their 2006 album "Broken Boy Soldiers", although the intent may be different and refer to khaki pants, being used for poetic effect:[4]

...Is this greeting the type that's meant for me?

Are you part of this khakistocracy...
(I've got a pen but I lost the top) Are you part of this khakistocracy?

(I've got so many things you haven't got) Is this greeting the type that's meant for me?

Temporal, a Pakistani-Canadian writer, uses it in relation to Pakistan and the dictatorship of Musharraf, defining it as the 'Military-Industrial-Feudal Complex'.[5]

MIF Khakistocracy: Military-Industrial-Feudal complex Ike’s military–industrial complex can be modified to include the feudal lords. This Military-Industrial-Feudal complex has continued to prosper at the expense of the ever dwindling middle and poor classes.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ kakistocracy. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. accessed August 25, 2008.
  2. ^ Dave Gilson (2003-02-02). "Freed from a prison of thought in Nigeria". SFGate. Retrieved 2007-12-15. 
  3. ^ Ikhenemho Okomilo (2005-06-10). "Another October, More Khakistocracy". Nigerians in America. Retrieved 2007-12-15. 
  4. ^ "The Raconteurs - Intimate Secretary Lyrics". LetsSingIt. 
  5. ^ temporal (2007-08-07). "Khakistocracy: Military-Industrial-Feudal Complex in Pakistan". Desicritics. Retrieved 2007-12-15. 

Further reading[edit]