In a deal that may raise eyebrows in Beijing, Pakistan and  Malaysia have pledged to help each other tackle ballooning levels of national debt.

The announcement came as Pakistan’s new prime minister, Imran Khan, wrapped up his first visit to Kuala Lumpur since coming to office in August.

The move by the two Muslim-majority nations follows concerns over growing levels of Chinese-linked sovereign debt, which became a hot-button issue in elections in both countries earlier this year.

On coming to office Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad cancelled some US$22 billion worth of Chinese projects, saying they were unnecessary and too expensive, while Khan has asked Beijing for significant shifts in the infrastructure projects agreed to as part of the US$60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a keystone of Beijing’s “Belt and Road Initiative”.

Both leaders also made anti-corruption measures a central plank of their campaign platforms.

Khan, who received a rock-star welcome upon his arrival in Malaysia on Wednesday – a welcome that included an audience with the country’s acting king – said Malaysia and Pakistan were “in similar positions”.