Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan
Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP

Beijing: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said he wished he could send 500 corrupt individuals in the country to jail by emulating Chinese President Xi Jinping's "crusade" against corruption.

Speaking at the China Council for Promotion of International Trade here, Khan, who is here on a two-day official visit, said that corruption as one of the biggest impediments to investment in Pakistan and one thing he had learned from China was how the country's leadership tackled corruption.

"One of President Xi Jinping's biggest crusade has been against corruption," Khan was quoted as saying by Pakistan's Dawn newspaper.

He said that he has heard that some 400 "ministerial-level people" had been convicted on charges of corruption and put behind jail in the last five years in China under Xi's regime.

Imran was referring to Xi's massive anti-corruption drive launched in 2012 that reportedly netted more than 1.3 million officials at various levels, from the elite to the ordinary.

Xi, who is also general secretary of the ruling Communist Party and commander-in-chief of the military, has launched a high-profile campaign targeting party, government, military and state-owned company officials suspected of corruption.

After assuming office, Xi vowed to crack down on "tigers and flies", that is, senior officials and local civil servants alike. His anti-graft campaign has netted former national-level leaders, including former Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang and ex-military leaders like Gen. Xu Caihou and Gen. Guo Boxiong.

"I wish I could follow President Xi's example and put 500 corrupt people in Pakistan in jail," said Khan, saying unfortunately processing [cases] in Pakistan was "very cumbersome".

Already several Opposition leaders in Pakistan are in jail for alleged corruption and money laundering, charges they have dismissed as politically motivated.

Former Pakistan president and Pakistan Peoples Party leader Asif Ali Zardari and ex-prime minister and chief of Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz, Nawaz Sharif and are in jail for corruption charges. Ex-premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former finance minister and PML-N leader Ishaq Dar are also facing corruption charges.

Prime Minister Khan said the most important thing that Pakistan could learn from China was the way it lifted people out of poverty.

"What inspires me most about China is the way they have lifted 700 million people out of poverty in 30 years," he said. "This has never happened in human history."

Khan said that since his government had come to power, it had taken a conscious decision to make it easier for investors to come to Pakistan.

"We will want them to make profits in Pakistan," he told top Chinese businessmen as his cash-strapped government tried to overcome a serious financial crisis.

"The Prime Minister's Office is driving opportunities for people to invest in our country. The ease of doing business is driven from the Prime Minister's Office. We have just formed a CPEC Authority because we were having problems in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects because they were under a lot of different ministries.

"We have now decided that there will be one authority which will resolve all the problems of the CPEC, and that authority will be the Prime Minister's Office, so that my office can make it easier for people investing in Pakistan."

He said Pakistan was keen on Chinese investments in sectors like textile, manufacturing, IT and financial services, physical and technological logistics, tourism and hospitality, food processing and agriculture, housing as well as in oil and gas.

"It's an exciting time in Pakistan because as we open up our country for business, it is a great opportunity for people to come and invest, and as we change the mindset in Pakistan, we want businesses to come and make money."

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