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Page last updated at 14:09 GMT, Thursday, 15 May 2008 15:09 UK

Pakistan battles power shortages

By Barbara Plett
BBC News, Islamabad

A man holds bread and an electric metre during a protest in Lahore. File photo
Many Pakistanis are angered by power cuts and a recent food price hike

Pakistan is switching to daylight saving time next month to help reduce the effects of a power shortage.

The move is part of a package of emergency measures that the new government hopes will help Pakistanis cope with the long hot summer.

The country is facing a shortfall of 4,000 megawatts.

Already electricity supplies to homes and businesses across Pakistan are cut for several hours a day because of the power shortfall.

Without air conditioning

The new government has inherited an acute power crisis.

map

That is partly because of low water levels this year but also because the previous administration, under President Pervez Musharraf, failed to add any capacity to generate electricity while demand soared.

Power cuts currently range from two to 12 hours daily across the country.

Already there have been riots, and the situation could get worse during the summer.

So, the government is taking emergency action.

It is announced that clocks would be moved forward an hour on 1 June; markets would close by 2100; and government offices would go without air conditioning in the mornings.

The authorities also plan to issue tenders for private companies to build power plants, as fast as possible.

It is not clear how much difference all this will make.

Past attempts to switch to daylight saving time did not work because people ignored them.

But analysts say the government feels compelled to at least be seen to be doing something, especially because there is a sense that it is adrift, consumed with a dispute over the judiciary since it took office last month.


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