On a day Punjab's border district of Gurdaspur was hit by a terror strike, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said India wants to have cordial relations with Pakistan but will give a befitting reply if national pride is challenged.
Singh said he was unable to understand why cross-border terror incidents were continuing unabated despite India wanting "good relations" with Pakistan.
“I cannot understand why time and again cross-border terror incidents are taking place when we want good relations with our neighbour (Pakistan). I want to tell our neighbour that we want peace but not at the cost of our national pride.”
“I have said this earlier and I will say it again that while we will not be the first to attack or fire, but if challenged, will give a befitting reply (muh tod jawab),” he said.
Singh is in Neemuch, Madhya Pradesh to take salute from the marching contingents of the Central Reserve Police Force at its cradle as part of the paramilitary force's 76th Raising Day celebrations.
The country's largest paramilitary was raised in this garrison town in 1939.
Recalling efforts by India for peace between the two countries, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to his swearing-in ceremony last year.
Singh said while he was leaving for Neemuch the incident was reported from Gurdaspur and action was on as he talked.
"I talked to the Punjab CM, NSA and Home secretary before leaving for this event. Coming here was important as this day is historic in the life of CRPF and I wanted to meet my jawans and officers here at any cost today," he said.
Singh will make a statement in Parliament on Tuesday on the Gurdaspur terror incident. "I will make a statement in Parliament tomorrow on the incident," he said, adding the security forces will get "ultimate success" in the ongoing operation.
The Home minister said by comfortably relying on the courage and grit of the Army and paramilitary troops, he can assure the country that people and the borders will be safe.
Singh asked CRPF and other security forces to thwart the nefarious designs of terrorist and other anti-national elements.
Image: Punjab police personnel keep vigil during an encounter with armed militants near Dinanagar town in Gurdaspur district. Photograph: PTI Photo