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President Asif Ali Zardari in a group photo with speakers of SAARC countries during the inauguration of the 6th Conference of the Association of SAARC Speakers and Parliamentarians. -APP Photo

ISLAMABAD: During his inaugural address to the 6th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) conference, President Asif Ali Zardari said terrorism can only be defeated if hearts and minds of the people are won over.

He emphasised on enhanced people-to-people contacts among the SAARC member states and said that the Association of SAARC Speakers and Parliamentarians was a vital instrument for promoting contacts among the peoples of the region.

During his speech, President Zardari also said that for many decades the nations within SAARC have been victims of terrorism.

He said that the war against terrorism has resulted in the deaths of over 40,000 Pakistani's, while the nation has suffered economic loss of $80 billion.

The president also said that to defeat terrorism, drugs smuggling will have to be tackled with.

President Zardari said that the need for regional cooperation had never been as great as it was today, in order to meet the emerging challenges of the growing population in the region.