Lahore: Pakistan`s cinema halls, which recently gained a fresh lease of life after distributors began importing Indian movies, are grappling with new problems following the federal government`s order to shut down at 8 pm as part of a drive to conserve electricity.
Pakistan is facing a severe power crisis and the government has taken several steps to bridge the shortfall, including introduction of a two weekly offs in offices and closing down of all malls, markets and business centres at 8 pm.
Pakistan Electric Power Company director general Muhammad Khalid said the government has decided to close cinemas at 8 pm in an effort to save energy.
However, the order for markets and commercial areas to shut down early has not gone down well in a country where people come out to shop from 7 pm onwards in the summer.
Only restaurants and medical stores have been exempted from the government`s drive.
"We cannot close cinemas by 8 pm at any cost. The industry is already facing a crunch and the government is making things worse for us by imposing such decisions," said Qaiser Sanaullah, chairman of the Cinema Management Association.
"It is tantamount to economic murder of the industry and the stakeholders will resist it," Sanaullah said.
Cinema Exhibitors Association chairman Jahanzeb Baig said the government`s order would ruin the cinema business. He hoped the government would take back its decision as it was highly unjustified.
"It`s unfortunate that the government is even disallowing the use of generators after 8 pm," he said.
About 1,300 cinemas have been closed across Pakistan in the past decade and some 200 cinemas are currently functional.