Pakistan's defense minister says its nuclear-armed rival India will "disintegrate" when Kashmir gains independence.

Khawaja Muhammad Asif said Wednesday 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.

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

Tensions have been escalating between Pakistan and India, which 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.