New Delhi: Former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor today said India cannot have "uninterruptable" talks with Pakistan ignoring terror attacks emanating from that country as it amounts to surrendering "self-respect" at times.
"We cannot have uninterruptable talks with Pakistan because if the military and ISI do unleash Lashkar-e-Taiba on Mumbai again or on another Indian city, we should interrupt talks. We can't talk to people when their own nationals uncontrolled by them are blowing up bombs in our country and killing Indians," he said.
Tharoor, who held the Minister of State for External Affairs portfolio in the erstwhile UPA government, said uninterruptable talks do not make sense because "then you actually surrender your self-respect by saying we will talk to you even if your people are coming and humiliating us and killing us and harming us."
The Congress MP was speaking at a panel discussion at the 'Penguin Spring Fever' here.
Former Indian foreign service officer TCA Raghavan, former Pakistani diplomat Husain Haqqani, who joined via video-conferencing, Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen and former Delhi Police commissioner Neeraj Kumar were also in the panel.
Tharoor went on to say that India was stuck in dialogue with a country that was either "unable or unwilling" to give it peace.
Referring to the disputed region of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (Pok), he said that India has never "realistically claimed" the region.
"Yes, we do maintain a claim to what is called the 'Azad Kashmir' and 'Pakistan-occupied Kashmir' as we call it, but my own view is that we maintain that claim essentially in order to have something to give up in case of settlements. We are not realistically trying and claiming that back indeed," he said.
Proposing a solution to the vexed equation between the two countries, Tharoor stressed on people-to-people contact and liberalisation of the visa regime.
"What we can do is to try and change the stakes in Pakistan and the way to do that is by dramatically opening up people-to-people contact. Let us be unilaterally generous with visas, starting off with specified categories of people -- writers, diplomats, business people, even business people working for military run companies.
"Let us give them a chance to come here because I have never heard of a Pakistani who has come to India and not fallen in love with the place. They have the shock of recognition and dismay of seeing how much more open and interesting and creative the society is," he said.
He also emphasised on the need for free trade between the two neighbours which, he said, will eventually help contain terror attacks by the like of LeT on India. Pakistanis are the victims of their own negative trade policies with India, he said.
"Let us massively open up trade for them. I will even encourage military owned companies to trade with India. The more Pakistani companies have a stake in good relations with India, the less happy they will be if their military fails to rein in the LeT attacks in the future," he said.