LAHORE-The govt has decided to implement the Daylight Saving Time (DST) from June 1, but it has been fraught with controversies all over the world since Benjamin Franklin conceived the idea, while even today, regions and countries routinely change their approaches to Daylight Saving Time.
If clocks are advanced by an hour on June 1, it will be country's second participation in the Daylight Saving Time, which will put Pakistan six hours ahead of the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
Some 80 countries, the vast majority in Europe and North America, are already practising the idea, while it has been a failure in Asia, after its repeated adoptions have been ended abruptly.
About its benefits, nothing is certain, as Pakistan is yet to carry out a study about the energy conservation.
However, the opponents to the Daylight Saving Time observe that in Pakistan it is an artificially-contrived and self-deceptive schedule of living, which cannot be practised across the country.
'It will be another round of irksome and absolutely needless readjustment now awaits people with its inevitable perplexity and discomfiture certainly outweighing the specious argument of daylight saving and economy in electricity consumption that are presented by the govt as the causes of change', they added.
In Pakistan, this is being done for the second time as in 2002 - from April 6 to October 5 - the govt practised the idea to increase number of daylight hours.
However, that was ending of an experimental adoption of the Daylight Saving Time.
Next year when the Federal govt intended to implement the decision, the Punjab govt said 'no' to putting clocks forward.
Interestingly, at that time, it was the Pakistan Muslim League (Q), which was heading both the Federal and the Provincial govts, which is not the case this time.
According to details, given by a senior officer, the provincial govt took the plea that the concept was not applicable to the country.
The Federal govt maintained that the concept was being practised in 80 countries.
'Pakistan is a warm country where the sun shines from 5 am to 7 pm in summer.
Secondly, about 70 per cent of the people of Punjab live in the rural areas, and they continue working as per the original timings earlier and did not advance the clocks'.
Last time, the 'changed timings were followed only in offices and educational institutions whereas the trade activities continued from dawn to dusk.
Lastly, as the prayer timings are related to the movement of the sun, which were not affected by the move.
The Punjab govt rebutted the Federal's arguments.
After this, the plan was withdrawn when the other provinces did not agree with the Federal govt, said a senior officer.
Another officer suggested that the govt could opt for longer working hours during five days a week and announce Saturday and Sunday as holidays.
'This way not only electricity will be consumed less, and secondly, our fuel consumption will be reduced when at least the govt offices will be closed', he said.
On the other hand, in Asia, the plan has been by and large a failure.
In Japan, Daylight Saving Time was introduced after the World War-II during the US occupation, but was dispensed with in 1952, following opposition from farmers.
Despite efforts by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry to have daylight saving introduced to cut Japan's energy consumption, opposition from farmers and the Ministry of Education (which was concerned that lighter evenings would entice school children from their homework) has continued to win the day.
However, Kyrgyzstan began keeping Daylight Saving Time year round in 2005, which is continuing even to date.
The Philippines introduced short periods of Daylight Saving Time between 1986 and 1998 to conserve energy, and in April 2006, the Department of Trade and Industry proposed that Daylight Saving Time again be implemented to combat rising oil prices.
Although South Korea does not currently observe Daylight Saving Time, the country did adhere to the DST from 1948 to 1951, 1955 to 1960, and 1987 to 1988.
Taiwan has had an on-again, off-again relationship with Daylight Saving Time, having observed it from 1945 to 1961 and 1974 to 1975.
Most of the United States begins Daylight Saving Time at 2 am on the second Sunday in March and reverts to standard time on the first Sunday in November.
In the US, each time zone switches at a different time.
In the European Union, Summer Time begins and ends at 1am Universal Time (GMT).
It begins the last Sunday in March and ends the last Sunday in October.
In the EU, all time zones change at the same moment.
The idea was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin in a humorous essay 'An Economical Project' in which he used 'daylight saving time' in a humorous way.
Then it was first advocated 'seriously' by London-builder William Willett in the pamphlet 'Waste of Daylight' proposing advancing clocks 20 minutes on each of four Sundays in April, and retarding them by the same amount on four Sundays in September.
The energy-saving benefits of Summer Time were recognised during the World War II, when clocks in Britain were put two hours ahead of GMT during the summer.
This became known as Double Summer Time.
During the war, clocks remained one hour ahead of GMT throughout the winter.
Germany and Austria began saving daylight at 11pm.
on April 30, 1916, by advancing the hands of the clock one hour until the following October.
According to some sources, the DST saves energy.
Studies done by the US Department of Transportation in 1975 showed that Daylight Saving Time trims the entire country's electricity usage by a small but significant amount, about one per cent each day, because less electricity is used for lighting and appliances.
Similarly, in New Zealand, power companies have found that power usage decreases 3.
5 per cent when daylight saving starts.
In the first week, peak evening consumption commonly drops around five per cent.
The rationale behind the 1975 study of DST-related energy savings was that energy use and the demand for electricity for lighting homes is directly related to the times when people go to bed at night and rise in the morning.
In the average home, 25 per cent of electricity is used for lighting and small appliances, such as television and stereos, while the rest on air-conditioning.
A good percentage of energy consumed by lighting and appliances occurred in the evening when families are at home.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 24-May-2008 here.