Speaking to a few reporters at the Newseum Friday, Petraeus said Iranian security services, mainly the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, have been strengthened after the unrest following the Iranian elections.
"There's also an effort to use [money], of course, to influence various political figures," he said at the event hosted by the National Journal. "It was remarked on that the chief of staff of President [Hamid] Karzai was provided a gift as he left the country. President Karzai was pretty astute when he said we'll take money from anybody who will give it to us and we'll put it to use for the Afghan people."
Petraeus, who was completing his weeklong trip to Washington after testifying before Congress on the Afghan war, said criminal networks closely connected to Afghan officials have presented serious problems for the Karzai government and the war effort.
He added that uncertainty over proposed withdrawal by NATO from the region has made Pakistani leadership reluctant to begin a broader military campaign in the tribal areas where insurgents and terrorist leadership are believed to be hiding.
"Among the most important ways to influence over time in Pakistan is to continue making progress in Afghanistan," Petraeus said.
He said Pakistan's wavering behavior is due to its "uncertainty about how Afghanistan will turn out."
Petraeus admitted that the Pakistani military and its Inter-Services Intelligence agency provided weapons, training and financing to insurgent groups that they believed would confine their attacks to the ongoing fight with India.
"This is the conundrum of allowing poisonous snakes to have a nest in your backyard with a tacit understanding that they're going to bite your neighbor's kids," he said. "Sooner or later they turn around and bite your kids."
Petraeus, who took command eight months ago, warned that abandoning Afghanistan as we did in the past would be a dangerous mistake.
"I think it is important to recall again why went [to Afghanistan] and why we are still there," Petraeus said. "It is a vital national security interest [that] al Qaeda and other transnational extremists not be able to re-establish a sanctuary in Afghanistan as they had prior to 9/11."
Sara A. Carter is The Washington Examiner's national security correspondent. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.