India is firmly committed to peace but should a conflict be "thrust upon us" then the armed forces would form a fortified wall against the adversary, President Pratibha Patil said in Bagdogra on Wednesday.
"We do not wish to encourage conflict, but should it be thrust upon us, I am confident that our armed forces will form a fortified wall against the adversary, and keep the Indian flag flying high," Patil said after presenting the presidential standards to 44 Squadron and 110 Helicopter Unit of the Indian Air Force Bagdogra.
The president emphasised that unless the country's borders were secure, it could not prosper.
She said that though India was "firmly committed to peace", it would not hesitate to use all its might to safeguard the sovereignty of the nation. "Our armed forces, exemplified by the men and women who stand before us, reflect our determination to protect our interests," the president said at the programme held at the air force base.
Paying tributes to the Indian Air Force, she said besides safeguarding the nation's sovereignty, the air force also acts as a life saver in peace time.
"Apart from the maintenance of our icy mountainous borders, the helicopter and transport units of the IAF have been extending yeoman service whenever called upon, during natural calamity, or during attacks by anti-national elements.
"Being the backbone of the Indian Air Force, they have always been there for our citizens in the hour of need, doing their best as always," the president said.
The 44 Squadron and 110 Helicopter Unit, popularly known as the 'Mighty Jets' and 'Vanguards', respectively, have a rich tradition of valour and courage, and have rendered distinguished service to the nation since their inception.
"Their personnel, both past and present, have put in untiring efforts in pursuit of excellence and have set an example for others to emulate. For their selfless devotion, professionalism and courage in the face of adversity, the nation honours them today with a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation," she said.