Kuala Lumpur signs deals for 'big projects' during Mahathir's Pakistan visit

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan welcoming Malaysian Premier Mahathir Mohamad to Islamabad on Thursday evening.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan welcoming Malaysian Premier Mahathir Mohamad to Islamabad on Thursday evening.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ISLAMABAD • Malaysia has shown interest in buying JF-17 Thunder fighter jets, halal meat and rice from Pakistan, and will soon procure anti-tank missiles from Islamabad, Pakistan's Finance Minister Asad Umar said yesterday.

Officials from the two countries have signed memorandum of understanding for five "big projects", he told journalists during an informal discussion.

Visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan held a one-on-one meeting yesterday.

Mr Umar said officials also agreed to open branches of their respective banks in each other's countries, and that Pakistan would try to make use of Malaysia's knowledge of tourism as it looks to revive its local industry.

A senior official had said on Thursday that Pakistan was set to sign deals worth US$900 million (S$1.2 billion) in areas such as telecoms, information technology and power generation during the three-day visit by Tun Dr Mahathir, who arrived in Islamabad on Thursday evening.

Pakistan, facing an economic crisis due to depleting foreign reserves and a widening current account deficit, has been searching for investment since the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan took office in August.

Media reports say the JF-17, a multirole combat aircraft, was developed by China's Chengdu Aircraft Corporation and is produced jointly with defence and aviation contractor Pakistan Aeronautical Complex.

The Pakistan Air Force has about 110 JF-17s, and the defence forces of Nigeria and Myanmar also use the aircraft, said a report in the South China Morning Post early this month.

At a joint press conference, Prime Minister Khan said he admired Dr Mahathir for his stand against corruption. "We actually believe that countries are not poor, corruption makes them poor. Corruption destroys state institutions," he said.

Bernama news agency quoted Dr Mahathir as saying the two countries can "exchange information on how to combat corruption".

He added: "We are very concerned about corruption. You have to pay a certain amount to make sure certain job is done. Sometimes money is stolen by officials and this has to be stopped."


Dr Mahathir also held a meeting with President Arif Alvi yesterday.

The 93-year-old Malaysian Prime Minister was awarded the Nishan-i-Pakistan, the country's highest civil honour.

Dr Mahathir will today be the chief guest at the Pakistan Day parade.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2019, with the headline 'KL signs deals for 'big projects' during Mahathir's Pakistan visit'. Subscribe