Pakistan starts daylight saving time (DST) on Wednesday, April 15, 2009, to alleviate the nation’s power shortages. The proposed daylight saving date already changed twice before the final decision on the date was made. The daylight saving arrangement has already met criticism from locals and businesses, and many anticipate that it will disrupt their daily lives.
The Cabinet finally approved for Pakistan’s clocks to move one hour forward at midnight (00:00) between April 14 and April 15 when the nation will be six hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC +6 hours). Pakistan’s Ministry of Water and Power anticipates that daylight saving time would help the country save electricity and reduce load shedding.
A Lahore High Court judge recently requested for the federal government to reply to a petition against daylight saving time and load shedding by April 30, 2009. Following this request, the Water and Power Development Authority and the federal water and power secretary were asked to reply to the petition. In response to the petition, the Pakistan Electric Power Company (PEPCO) defended the decision to adopt daylight saving time, stating that it was of great benefit. The high court dismissed the petition on Wednesday, July 15, 2009.
Citizens Dreading DST
The Ministry of Water and Power originally proposed for the country’s 2009 daylight saving schedule to start on April 1. The daylight saving schedule was then delayed due to weather conditions. Early in April, May 1 was proposed as another date to start DST. But when the final decision was made to push the daylight saving date forward to April 15, the proposal met resistance in the public.
Many people are against the government’s daylight saving schedule for 2009. A Lahore High Court judge recently issued a notice to respondents, including the federal government, to respond to calls against daylight savings time and discrimination in load shedding by April 30, 2009. PEPCO responded to the petition, stating that the decision to implement DST was beneficial.
There were also calls earlier in 2009 for the government to ensure that confusion would be minimized on the time changes and for the government to push for transport providers to have accurate time schedules. Many also believed, from previous experience of DST, that many transport providers, including railways and airlines, were apathetic to the changes and often forgot to inform passengers about the new time schedules.
Moreover, many people claim that they will need to change their sleeping habits and lifestyle. They also believe that there is no certainty that household electricity usage would reduce during the daylight saving period. Another point that was brought up was that the literacy rate was low in rural areas and more than half of the nation’s population still resided in villages. Traders in Pakistan expressed that they were not ready to close their shops at sunset.
Pakistan’s Power Deficit
PEPCO (cited in Sify News, March 21, 2009), suggested that the federal government advance the clocks on April 1, 2009, to cope with the country’s power deficit. Later, the Ministry of Water and Power planned for the daylight saving schedule to start on May 1. The Cabinet accepted April 15 as the date to change the clocks. It is anticipated that a government awareness campaign on daylight energy conservation would be launched as well.
Power is being suspended for up to eight hours during the day, adding to businesses’ and communities’ frustration. Moreover, Pakistan’s power demand is set to increase over the next few years, particularly during the nation’s summer peak period.
Businesses and community groups who are pushing for daylight saving time hope that the extra hour of sunlight in the afternoon, through daylight saving time, could help save energy across the nation. People can then rely on natural sunlight instead of depending on artificial lighting during the later part of the day.
However, not everyone agreed that daylight saving time was the solution to Pakistan’s energy crisis. Some people have expressed in the recent past that daylight saving time was problematic to daily life. For example, some workers complained about preparing their work in the dark, while parents complained that electricity was shut down during the early morning hours, which was when they prepared for their children to go to school during the daylight saving schedule.
Results from Daylight Saving Time 2008
In 2008 Pakistan’s Federal Cabinet approved for daylight saving time to occur from June 1 to October 31 to alleviate power shortages and reduce the amount of forced load shedding. Load shedding refers to the process by which an electric utility cuts power to some customers in response to a shortage of available electricity.
According to a government source from the Ministry of Water and Power, the 2008 daylight saving measure saw an energy saving that lasted for five months. The amount of energy that was saved enabled PEPCO to reduce the load shedding in certain areas by one to two hours on a daily basis (on the average). However, a local newspaper recently claimed that the company did not save much electricity during that period.
Pakistan’s Time Zone
Pakistan is on UTC +5 hours during the non-daylight saving period and moves the clocks one hour forward to UTC +6 hours during the daylight saving period. These are the hours that have been set for Pakistan’s daylight saving arrangement in previous years.
Pakistan’s clocks will move one hour forward at midnight (00:00) between April 14 and April 15, then probably shift one hour back at midnight (00:00) between October 31 and November 1 in 2009.