Sep 28, 1:29 PM EDT

Pakistan says India will 'disintegrate' when Kashmir is free

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ISLAMABAD (AP) -- Pakistan's defense minister on Wednesday said India will "disintegrate" when Kashmir gains independence, in a sign of mounting tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals.

Khawaja Muhammad Asif told The Associated Press that Pakistan will continue to extend moral support to the people of the disputed Himalayan region, which is split between Pakistani and Indian control but claimed in its entirety by both.

"When the freedom movement in Kashmir succeeds, it will be beginning of the end of India," he said. Asif said the sacrifices of Kashmiri people will not be in vain and that "India will disintegrate and it will not remain united" when Kashmir gains independence.

He said Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has tried to improve ties with India, but "we did not get a positive response from them."

Sharif attended a high-level security meeting on Wednesday in which he expressed concern over human rights violations in Indian-controlled Kashmir. The meeting "condemned the brutal use of force by Indian security forces" in Kashmir, according to a government statement.

Sharif said Pakistan will continue to extend moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people until their aspirations are met.

"Pakistan has shown unequalled and unprecedented restraint despite great provocation" from India, the statement said.

India blamed Pakistan-based militants for a recent attack on an army base in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir that killed 18 Indian soldiers. Since then, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said he will work to isolate Pakistan internationally.

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