Terrorism panel chairman: Washington hasn't 'come to grips' with Pakistan as a failing state

The leader of a House subcommittee on terrorism and nonproliferation said the rise of extremism in Pakistan isn't getting due attention in that country.

In an interview with The Hill, Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) referenced the recent assassination of Punjabi governor Salman Taseer, a liberal politician shot by his own guard in Islamabad. Afterward, 500 Pakistani religious scholars warned that anyone who mourned the governor, who opposed capital punishment blasphemy laws, would suffer the same fate.

Royce said Pakistani lawmakers whom he's met during the past three years on his three trips there have gone underground.

"I don't that that many people either in Congress or the administration ... seem to have come to grips with the fact that Pakistan is failing," Royce said.

He said his House Foreign Affairs subcommittee is focusing on a lot of the challenges surrounding Pakistan and radicalization, such as watching some 800 madrassas "of particular interest to the U.S." that have a "program of indoctrinating children into jihad."

"It's not as though the president of Pakistan does not understand the challenges," Royce said.

When asked about the White House comprehension of the situation, he sees room for improvement.

"I think there's a certain amount of wishful thinking here," Royce said. "The situation in Pakistan is quite dire. I think the fact that you have Pakistani legislators underground trying to protect their lives right now conveys the degree of severity."