KABUL (Agencies) President Hamid Karzais recent complaints that international forces should focus on militant leaders hiding in neighbouring Pakistan instead of Afghan villages doesnt mean the government no longer supports the US war strategy, the top NATO commander said Tuesday. General David Petraeus said Karzais call last week for a shift in military focus to insurgent hideouts in neighbouring Pakistan was understandable... and we share those concerns. We have obviously worked with our Pakistani partners over time to increase their capability to deal with the extremist elements on their soil who are threatening their writ of governance and who are causing enormous security problems in Afghanistan and in some cases in other areas of the world as well, Petraeus said. The fact is that Pakistan does deserve credit for having waged a very impressive counterinsurgency campaign over the last 18 months. Afghan National Security Adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta has argued that US support of Pakistan amounts to nurturing the terrorists main mentor and that the Afghan people are no longer ready to pay the price for the international communitys miscalculation and naivety. Given the very clear linkage between attacks on Afghan soil by individuals who have come from Pakistan and are commanded and controlled from Pakistan, I think President Karzai and Dr Spanta have very legitimate concerns, Petraeus said. Still, he added, the Pakistani government has continued to squeeze the locations in which these individuals have safe haven sanctuary, recognising that more work needs to be done. In an interview with foreign media organisations on Tuesday, the US commander of the Afghan war acknowledged that the Taliban were expanding their footprint across the country even as international forces close in on their traditional southern strongholds. Petraeus said a sharp rise in attacks on foreign troops showed the Taliban were feeling threatened but said there needed to be political as well as military action to wipe out the industrial-strength insurgency. Earlier, in an interview with NATO TV in Brussels, Petraeus said Taliban guerrillas still retain the initiative in some parts of Afghanistan despite recent successes by coalition forces. Petraeus said NATO forces had reversed some of the gains the Taliban had made in recent years in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar and around Kabul. Petraeus said the overall campaign strategy in Afghanistan after almost nine years of war was reaching its final stages, with the number of US and NATO troops set to peak at 150,000 in the coming days. However, he said the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan from next July would begin with a general thinning out of forces rather than any large-scale drawdown. Petraeus said guidelines had been drawn up recently for the transition and repeated the pace of withdrawals would depend on conditions on the ground, mainly the readiness of Afghan forces. These guidelines recognise that this is a process, not an event, in other words it will typically represent a thinning out of ISAF forces, not a hand-off per se, Petraeus told Reuters and two other news agencies in Kabul. In some cases, that transition dividend, in other words the forces no longer required, will go home, in some other cases they may be reinvested in a contiguous area, lets say within the same province to address security issues in neighbouring districts. ... the transition likely will occur in districts initially rather than in entire provinces, although there may be some provinces where this may be possible, Petraeus said, adding this would likely not be possible in hard-fought areas. He also noted that NATOs campaign to secure the southern city of Kandahar had just begun. But clearly theres a lot more work to be done with the Taliban fighting back very hard, he said. This is really (Taliban leader) Mullah Omars hometown. This is the iconic place of the Taliban and its very important for them and it will be tough.