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How did you transform your economy? Imran Khan asks Malaysia PM

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan talks with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad as he inspects an honor guard during a welcoming ceremony in Putrajaya, Malaysia on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018.  Photograph:( PTI )

PTI Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Nov 21, 2018, 09.37 PM (IST)

Pakistan is keen to learn from the vast experience of Malaysia's veteran Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad how he transformed the country's economy, Prime Minister Imran Khan said Wednesday.

Khan, who is on a two-day official visit here, said one of the main reasons he has made a trip to Malaysia is out of his admiration for Mahathir.

Mahathir, 93, Malaysia's longest-serving prime minister, staged a spectacular comeback to politics in May this year, becoming the world's oldest head of government. 

"We look upon you as a statesman, someone who has transformed this country. 

"We have followed Malaysia's progress, especially since Dr Mahathir came into office, and my party (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) wants to learn from your experience how you transformed the economy and developed it, raised the per capita income, the Gross Domestic Product," he said at a joint press conference with Mahathir, the official Bernama news agency quoted Khan as saying.

The 66-year-old cricketer-turned-politician said that as both he and Mahathir came to power with a mandate from the people on an anti-corruption platform, Pakistan and Malaysia face similar situations in terms of unprecedented debt.

"We want to talk to you (Dr Mahathir) about dealing with the crisis and how to come out of it and I am very pleased with the morning discourse," Khan said, referring to their bilateral meeting earlier.

Khan also invited Mahathir as the chief guest on the Pakistan Day celebrations on March 23 next year, Pakistani media reports said.

Earlier, after the delegation meeting, Mahathir and Khan also witnessed the signing of an agreement by the governments of Malaysia and Pakistan on the partial abolition of visa for travel between the two countries for holders of diplomatic and official passports.

Prime Minister Khan also visited the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters, becoming the first foreign leader to tour the office since the inception of the entity 51 years ago.

He was received by MACC chief commissioner Mohd Shukri Abdull, who also briefed the Pakistani leader on MACC's operations.

"This is the first time in (the MACC) history that a (foreign) prime minister has paid a visit to the MACC," Mohd Shukri said to reporters after Imran Khan's visit.

He said Khan asked whether the MACC had set any (monetary) threshold for initiating an investigation, and he explained that the agency would conduct an investigation even if the value involved was only Ringgit 5 (Rs 85).

He said the prime minister had also asked whether the MACC had the power to investigate judges or military personnel, and he replied that the country's laws applied to all and were "impartial", Bernama reported.

Mohd Shukri said the MACC proposed that Pakistan send officials to undergo training with the MACC.

"In Pakistan, there is a body which investigates corruption known as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) under the Ministry of Justice. They (NAB) are not the same as us, but they want to learn from us," he said.

The visit to Malaysia is Khan's fourth official visit to any foreign country after becoming prime minister. Before this, he has visited Saudi Arabia, China and the United Arab Emirates to seek bailout packages amid a mounting balance of payments crisis confronting Pakistan. 

Khan was accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood and other senior officials. 

Story highlights

Khan, who is on a two-day official visit here, said one of the main reasons he has made a trip to Malaysia is out of his admiration for Mahathir.