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Pakistan switch is one more wrinkle in time

Indian Border Security Force soldiers and Pakistani Rangers march to the same drummer but a different clock at the Wagah, India, post: Pakistan switched to daylight saving time Saturday.

Associated Press

Indian Border Security Force soldiers and Pakistani Rangers march to the same drummer but a different clock at the Wagah, India, post: Pakistan switched to daylight saving time Saturday.

NEW DELHI—It was, you could say, only a matter of time.

Pakistan became the first nation in South Asia to adopt daylight saving time Saturday, pushing clocks forward by one hour. The three-month experiment is designed, as elsewhere, to cut energy costs by taking advantage of long summer days.

But what might make practical sense for Pakistan is yet another headache for a region that already clocks up more than its share of chronological confusion. For residents of South Asia, figuring out what time it is in the next country, let alone beyond that, can be an exercise in frustration.

Consider this: Pakistan lies west of India and is usually half an hour behind its political archrival. But by winding its clocks forward, Pakistan is now half an hour ahead of India. The situation seems a little absurd, like California being ahead of Nevada.

Or take India and its little neighbor Bangladesh. Imagine India as a friendly country with its arm slung over Bangladesh's shoulder. The hand on the shoulder is India's northeast corner, a chunk connected to the rest of India by a thin arm of land.

Now, a Bangladeshi who crosses his country's western border finds himself in India, whose time is set half an hour behind Bangladesh. So far, so good. But if he goes in the opposite direction, across the eastern frontier, he finds himself in India yet again, and still has to turn his watch back 30 minutes, even though the sun will rise earlier than it did when he was at home.

Maybe this feels too much like Groundhog Day. To escape the time warp, you flee to Nepal.

Ah, yes, the timeless Himalayas. Nepal's time zone is different from any other country in South Asia — indeed, any other country on Earth. Official time as decreed by Katmandu, the Nepalese capital, falls on the 15- or 45-minute mark relative to much of the rest of the world. So, for example, when it's 6 p.m. in New Delhi, it's 6:15 p.m. in Katmandu.

Pakistan switch is one more wrinkle in time 05/31/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 9:19am]
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