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October 9, 2019

Wish I could put 500 corrupt people behind bars: Imran

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October 9, 2019

BEIJING: Inspired by China’s way of tackling corruption, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said he wished to put 500 corrupt people in Pakistan behind bars just like Chinese President Xi Jinping did, to rid the country of the “biggest impediment to prosperity”.

“President Xi waged one of the biggest crusades against corruption and I want to do the same, but unfortunately our system is too cumbersome to handle it,” the Prime Minister said in his address at the China Council for Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) in Beijing.

Prime Minister Khan, who is on a two-day official visit to China – the third in 13 months—on his arrival at the Great Hall was presented a guard of honour, accompanied by a 19-gun salute.

Khan mentioned the effective accountability system in China, where a corrupt mayor was convicted in just five days on charges of stashing tons of gold in house’s basement.

The Prime Minister said his top priority was to end red-tapism—another form of corruption—and promote meritocracy in the country. He said China’s exemplary step of taking its 700 million people out of poverty in 30 years was a source of learning for Pakistan. Also, Pakistan could acquire expertise from Chinese model of business, investment and wealth creation with an aim to be spent on less privileged segment of the society, he said.

Khan said since the assumption of office, his earliest decision among others was to facilitate foreign investors to encourage profitability. “This government is the first one after 1960 which is encouraging ease-of-doing business—the concept being driven by the Prime Minister’s Office itself,” he added.

About the progress on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he told the audience comprising Chinese businessmen and investors that a CPEC Authority had been formed to resolve all the related issues. Under Phase I, he said, Gwadar Free Zone had been completed, Gwadar Smart City master plan approved and matters of tariff and pending projects were resolved.

In Phase II, the cooperation would focus on agriculture as Pakistan being the world’s best fertile land would like to learn from Chinese expertise in yield productivity, he added.The Prime Minister said prominent reasons to invest in Pakistan included strategic location, 220 million population with 60 per cent aged under 30, economic revival reforms and industrial clusters through Special Economic Zones.

“This is the right time to invest in Pakistan, as the country offers an improved business facilitation system and mindset as well,” he said. He said for Chinese investment, the areas of attraction included textiles, manufacturing, Information Technology, physical and technological logistics, food processing, agriculture, and tourism and hospitality. Also, the oil and gas sector and the gold and copper reserves offered tremendous opportunity, he added.

On tourism sector’s scope, he mentioned Pakistan’s diverse terrain ranging from high peaks to sandy beaches and deserts as natural beauty. Whereas, the area of religious tourism is another attraction as the country was a cradle of ancient civilisations, including Buddhism, Sikhism and Hinduism.

Prime Minister Khan, meanwhile, held a series of meetings with the representatives of Chinese companies in Beijing and invited them to invest in Pakistan. Later in the day, Prime Minister Imran Khan met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and exchanged views on deepening bilateral trade and economic partnership, and explored ways of increasing Pakistan’s exports to China.

During the meeting, both the leaders agreed that the implementation of the 2nd phase of China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (FTA) would lead to more trade, economic and investment opportunities between the two countries. Other areas of potential collaboration discussed in the meeting included railways, steel, oil and gas, industry and science and technology, a PM Office press release said.

Extending felicitations on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the Prime Minister underscored that the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership between Pakistan and China served the fundamental interests of the two countries and peoples, and contributed to peace, development and stability in the region.

He emphasised that expeditious completion of CPEC projects was the foremost priority of his government as the transformational project was pivotal to accelerating Pakistan’s economic development and regional prosperity.

Premier Li was apprised of the actions undertaken recently to fast-track CPEC projects and to push the development momentum in Gwadar. Premier Li reiterated China’s support for Pakistan’s issues of core national interest.

He thanked Prime Minister Khan for the measures to advance the CPEC projects and maintained that the second phase of CPEC would be instrumental in reinforcing and consolidating Pakistan’s economic development and pave the way for enhanced Chinese investments in Pakistan. The two sides also discussed regional security situation, including serious human rights and humanitarian situation in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Prime Minister Khan apprised Premier Li of the latest developments and the importance of urgent action by the international community to alleviate the sufferings of the Kashmiri people in the lockdown. Both the leaders maintained that frequent and substantive bilateral exchanges were contributing to elevating the all-weather strategic co-operative partnership to new heights and were reinforcing people-to-people ties.

The two leaders also witnessed signing of various agreements and memorandums of understanding (MOUs) aimed at deepening Pakistan-China ties in a range of socio-economic sectors.

Prime Minister Khan reiterated his invitation to Premier Li to visit Pakistan at the earliest opportunity.

Foreign Minister, Minister for Planning, Development and Reform, Minister for Railways, Advisor on Commerce, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Energy, and Board of Investment Chairman, Chief of Army Staff, Inter-Services Intelligence Director General, and other senior officials were present.The bilateral talks were followed by a banquet hosted by Premier Li.

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