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Pakistan puts its clocks forward by an hour
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June 02, 2008 13:34 IST

Pakistan has put its clocks forward to tide over an unprecedented energy crisis by taking advantage of an extra hour of daylight, creating consternation among the people and even raising the hackles of some.

The concept of "daylight saving time" was introduced on Sunday by putting clocks forward by an hour at midnight, but many claimed that the government had not done enough to publicise the measure that will remain in place for three months.

Many Pakistanis were blissfully unaware that 8 o'clock was the new 9 o'clock and began their day an hour behind schedule, with some even landing in trouble for getting to work late.

Several office-goers punched their cards a good hour late at 9 am on Sunday thinking it was 8 am and they were on time.

Some others missed their 'namaz' with the prayer schedules going haywire. "I was aware of the changed office timings, but I forgot to reset my clock and landed late in office. But thankfully the management went easy on us," said Saad Khan, who works for a telecom company in the federal capital.

Khan's colleague Shaan Ahmed had a more serious grouse. He missed his morning prayers. "It will take me a while to get used to the new prayer schedule. It feels strange that I have to now offer my morning prayer at 5.30 am and not 4.30 am," Ahmed said.

There was confusion at the Lahore [Images] railway station as clocks were not put an hour ahead while the trains were running according to the new time. There was chaos and confusion as travellers tried to figure out the correct timings.

This is Pakistan's second experiment with DST, which is had first introduced in 2002 and abandoned soon after as many people in rural areas simply did not adopt the measure.

The change has put Pakistan six hours ahead of GMT and made it the only country to the west of India that is ahead in time.

Pakistan is currently half an hour ahead of India, instead of the usual 30 minutes behind. Students were fortunately spared the confusion with schools and most colleges currently shut for the summer vacation.

But they too had their set of complaints. "We will have to rush home earlier," said Hina Saeed, who was enjoying a cup of coffee with her friends at Hotspot restaurant.

Along with the introduction of DST, all markets have been ordered to close at 9 pm and government offices have been directed not to turn on their air conditioners between 8 am and 11 am.

The moves are aimed at countering a shortfall of over 4,000 MW of electricity, which has already forced the government to resort to prolonged daily power cuts.

Many shoppers were caught unawares when the markets suddenly shut at 9 pm on Sunday night.

"I wanted to buy milk, but the shops have all shut down. Earlier they used to be open till at 10.30 pm," said a shopper in the busy Rana Market.

Shahid Sohail, an engineer, pointed out that the afternoon prayer period will stretch and there will be practically no work done in post-lunch hours.

"Earlier there was a break of 30 minutes between 1 pm and 1.30 pm for lunch and prayers," he said. "In the present scenario, lunch can be had during this break period but the prayers timings will be advanced by one hour. So the government employees will avail the lunch break of 30 minutes at 1 pm and offer the prayer at 2 pm. Hence practically, no office works after 1 pm."

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