Islamabad, Nov. 5 — In a move that shocked Muslim clerics and others in this conservative country,
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf appeared naked Monday night on the state-run Pakistan Television, calling it a "goodwill gesture" to appease the United States and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Earlier that day, Rice had called for Musharraf to "take off his uniform" and return the country to civilian rule.
"I’ve taken off my uniform, Condi," Musharraf said. "I’m waiting for instructions from you on what I should wear."
While the camera scanned his body, Musharraf laughed and said, "I am a general and these are my privates." He paused, looked down and shouted, "Attention!"
Pakistanis expressed shock at their president’s nudity. "I knew he was a small man," said one woman, who requested anonymity. "But I didn’t realize he was that small."
"Three of my children were watching," said another woman. "They are in utter shock. One of them shouted, ‘The general has no clothes.’ I had to take them all to a doctor. I had told them television is bad for them, but I didn’t know how bad."
Some political observers speculated that Musharraf was drunk, while others believe he was merely stressed out about the political crisis in his country.
"He just declared a state of emergency," said Shahid Ismail, a political science professor at the University of Texas. "And now, because of his nudity, many women and children are undergoing emergency treatment."
Several Muslim clerics called for the president’s resignation, one of them referring to him as "President Pervert Musharraf."
"He has brought shame upon the whole nation," said Sheikh Abdul Saeed. "In Pakistan, we are used to being in a state of unrest, but definitely not a state of undress."
Political opponents also called for the general to step down.
"We have seen him naked," former prime minister Nawaz Sharif said, "and we are saying to him, ‘So long, General Musharraf.’ And we don’t mean that as a compliment."
Meanwhile, in the province of Sindh, the headline in a local newspaper — "Musharraf bares it all for Rice" — prompted thousands of people to go on a riot, demanding that they be allowed to get naked for rice, too.