Pakistan has renewed a call for neighbouring Afghanistan to open dialogue with Taliban insurgents to stem the rise in violence in the war-torn country.
Ali Muhammad Jan Aurakzai, a former general who is now governor of the North West Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan, warned the Taliban-led insurgency was already turning into a "liberation war" in Afghanistan.
It is "developing into some kind of nationalist movement, a resistance movement, some sort of liberation war against the coalition forces," he told journalists in the provincial capital of Peshawar.
Aurakzai was speaking ahead of a rare media trip to North Waziristan, an area used by Taliban militants close to the Afghanistan border.
A group of journalists flew Saturday to Miranshah, the main city in North Waziristan where thousands of troops are deployed to stop Taliban cross-border movement, for a briefing by senior army officials.
In September Aurakzai engineered a peace deal with militants in North Waziristan, evoking suspicions from Kabul and the commanders of international forces battling the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Pakistan has strongly defended the agreement, saying it has helped curtail infiltration across the porous frontier into Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has openly accused Pakistan of fostering an insurgency by the Islamist Taliban, while Islamabad's western allies have shown increasing concern over its pacts with the militants. The conflict killed 4,000 people last year.
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates visited Pakistan on Monday and sought the cooperation of President Pervez Musharraf for a planned spring offensive against the Taliban.
Two weeks ago Musharraf urged NATO and coalition forces to do more to tackle the Taliban, saying that Pakistan could not win the fight against militancy on its own.
Pakistani authorities say alienation is increasing among Afghanistan's majority Pashtun community straddling both sides of the border because of lack of representation in the ruling set up and development in the region.