President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday said India is a peaceful country but will not hesitate to use all its might to protect its sovereignty. He was speaking at an event at the Sulur Air Force Station, near Coimbatore.

His comment comes amid rising hostilities between India and Pakistan.

“India’s growing stature in the comity of nations is consistent with the strength and capabilities of our armed forces,” he said. ““India remains firmly committed to peace, but in case the need arises, we will use all our might to protect the nation’s sovereignty. I am confident that our valiant men and women in uniform will rise to the occasion.”

Kovind said valour and professionalism was on display during India’s air strikes last week. “I am confident that our valiant men and women in uniform will rise to the occasion. Our armed forces, exemplified by the air warriors who stand before us, reflect our firm resolve to defend our nation. This valour and professionalism was on display very recently, as the Indian Air Force carried out pre-emptive strikes on a known terrorist camp.”

Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after February 14, when 40 security personnel were killed in a terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad.

India and Pakistan on February 27 claimed that they had shot down each others’ fighter jets, a day after the Indian Air Force had struck a Jaish terror camp in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. India said Pakistan had attempted to target military installations in Jammu and Kashmir. A pilot of the Indian Air Force, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, was taken in custody by Pakistan after his MiG-21 Bison was shot down. He was later released and came back to India on Friday night.