Pakistan worst-hit by terrorism in world: Zardari

Islamabad, Nov 5: Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said on Sunday that his country has been worst-hit by terrorism in the entire world. Speaking at a conference of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in Islamabad, Zardari said terrorism has claimed 40,000 lives in Pakistan and also caused an economic loss of $80 billion.

The Pakistani President said durable peace in South Asia was in the interest of all and appealed to the SAARC member states to join hands to fight against the menace of terrorism.

SAARC parliaments should take the initiative to protect political liberties, human freedom and the rule of law to encourage regional peace, Zardari said, adding that strong parliaments play an important role in initiating reforms.

Zardari also said on the occasion that the present government in Pakistan will complete its term. It will be the first-ever democratically elected government in the country to do so. He said Pakistan was on its way to realise the dividends of democracy.

Representatives from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan besides Pakistan participated at the sixth meeting of SAARC speakers and parliamentarians. Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar led the Indian parliamentary delegation at the meet.

India, Pakistan express commitment to friendship

India and Pakistan on Sunday expressed their commitment to work towards establishing good neighbourly relations between them and voiced satisfaction on the way bilateral dialogue was progressing. The two sides conveyed this sentiment to each other when visiting Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar called on Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari at the presidency in Islamabad on Sunday evening.

Zardari said Pakistan is committed to a "constructive, sustained and result-oriented process of engagement" with India, and reiterated his call for the two countries to make "determined efforts for friendly, cooperative and good neighbourly relations".

He expressed satisfaction that the "resumed dialogues between the two countries are progressing", an official statement said. Zardari said finding "amicable and just solutions" to all outstanding issues is important for Pakistan and India to ensure lasting peace and stability in the region.

He said South Asia has enormous potential and cooperation between India and Pakistan is imperative to exploit it. Pakistan is also keen to promote greater interaction between parliamentarians of the two sides and "high level visits have significantly improved the atmosphere between the two countries", he said.

Kumar reiterated India's desire to "build a relationship of good neighbourliness and all-round cooperation with Pakistan". She expressed satisfaction at "recent positive developments in bilateral relations", including in the areas of trade and people-to-people interaction.

(With PTI inputs)

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