I wish to put 500 corrupt behind bars as President Xi did: PM

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Staff Report

Islamabad

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 county of “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.

Imran 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 the 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 can acquire expertise from the Chinese model of business, investment and wealth creation with an aim to be spent on less-privileged segments of society, he said.

Imran Khan said since the assumption of office, his earliest decisions 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.

Of progress on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he told the audience comprising Chinese businessmen and investors that a CPEC Authority was 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 billion population with 60 percent ageing 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 scope in the tourism sector, 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 civilizations including Buddhism, Sikhism and Hinduism etc.

Separately, the Prime Minister held wide-ranging bilateral talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

The exchange of views particularly covered strengthening of bilateral economic partnership.

​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.

​Prime Minister Imran Khan emphasized that expeditious completion of CPEC projects was the foremost priority of his government as this 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 Gawadar.

​Premier Li underlined the salience of the abiding Pakistan-China relationship and reiterated China’s support for Pakistan’s issues of core national interest. Premier Li thanked Prime Minister Imran Khan for the measures to advance CPEC projects and maintained that the second phase of CPEC will be instrumental in reinforcing and consolidating Pakistan’s economic development and pave the way for enhanced Chinese investments in Pakistan.

​The two sides exchanged views on deepening bilateral trade and explored ways of increasing Pakistan’s exports to China. Both leaders agreed that the implementation of the 2nd phase of China-Pakistan FTA would lead to more trade, economic and investment opportunities between the two countries. Other areas of potential collaboration discussed between the two sides included railways, steel, oil and gas, industry and science & technology.

The two sides also discussed regional security situation including serious human rights and humanitarian situation in IoJK. Prime Minister Imran 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 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 MOUs aimed at deepening Pakistan-China ties in a range of socio-economic sectors.

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

The bilateral talks were followed by a banquet hosted by Premier Li.

On his arrival, the Prime Minister was presented a guard of honour, accompanied by 19-gun salute. The Foreign Minister, Minister of Planning, Development and Reform, Minister of Railways, Advisor on Commerce, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Energy, and Chairman BOI, Chief of Army Staff, DG ISI, and other senior officials were present.

Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister met Chairman China Gezhouba Group Lyu Zexiang in Beijing and discussed cooperation in the energy sector.

The Chinese group showed keen interest in exploring new business avenues in Pakistan especially in the energy sector.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister for Planning Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid, Adviser on Commerce Razaq Dawood, Special Assistant on Petroleum Nadeem Babar and Chairman Board of Investment (BOI) Zubair Gilani were also present in the meeting.

China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC) is one of the most competitive listed companies with very strong financing capabilities. The Chinese group has expanded its business in more than one hundred countries and regions.

Earlier Tuesday, PM Imran arrived in China on the invitation of China Premier Li Keqiang.

The PM was received by Chinese Culture Minister Luo Shugang on his arrival at the Beijing airport. Ambassador of Pakistan to China was also present at the airport to receive PM Imran. Additional input by agencies