New Delhi, June 5: In a stern message to Pakistan over its continuous ceasefire violations along the border, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said that while the government “honours” ceasefire agreement with Pakistan, the forces will retaliate if unprovoked attacks are being made by the neighboring country. Also Read - Fifth Session of Seventeenth Lok Sabha To Commence On January 29, Likely to Conclude on April 8

“Terror and talks cannot go hand in hand,” Sitharaman said while addressing a press conference in New Delhi. Also Read - Income Tax, Merger of More Banks: Here’s What to Expect From First ‘Paperless’ Budget 2021

“When it is an unprovoked attack the Army was given the right to retaliate. We honour the ceasefire but of course, a margin was given to us when there is an unprovoked attack,” she added. Also Read - Will Tax Exemption Limit Be Raised? All Eyes on Union Budget 2021

Sitharaman’s statement was in reference to the government’s decision last month to halt counter-insurgency operations in the Valley during the Ramzan.

When asked on whether the move of halting the ceasefire was a success, Sitharaman said that it wasn’t the role of Defence Ministry if it was successful.

“We shall be alert that no unprovoked attack goes without us responding. It’s our duty to keep India safe,” she said.

The defence minister also termed the allegations of scam in the Rafale deal as “baseless”, further claiming that there was no shortage of ammunition in the present time. She said that there was a shortage in 2014 when the NDA came to power at the Centre, but there is none now.

Sitharaman said that the negotiations with Russia over the S-400 deal were in the final stage, adding that New Delhi has made it clear to the United States that relations between India and Russia are “time-tested”. Her remarks came amid Washington showing discontent over India signing the Rs 39000-crore defence deal with Russia, saying it might affect New Delhi’s bilateral ties with the US.