House Intelligence chairman says 'ally' may be too strong a word for Pakistan

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee on Friday delivered a rebuke to Pakistan, hesitating to characterize that country as an "ally" given the questions about its prior knowledge of Osama bin Laden's whereabouts.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) acknowledged that there are serious difficulties plaguing the U.S. relationship with Pakistan.

"I would say Pakistan is an ally," he said in an interview airing Sunday on "60 Minutes" on CBS. "There are challenges, there’s serious challenges there and ‘ally’ may be too strong a word."

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The government of Pakistan has come under pressure from lawmakers and even President Obama following the killing of bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan earlier this month. Obama has said that bin Laden enjoyed a "support network" in Pakistan, though his national security adviser last weekend said there was no knowledge of bin Laden's location among Pakistan's most senior political, military or intelligence leadership.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is set to travel soon to Pakistan, where he'll ask pointed questions of that country and drive home U.S. concerns about the cooperation of the Pakistani government.

But Rogers said that Pakistan could also seize a moment of opportunity now that bin Laden's dead, perhaps by offering up the location of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the high-ranking al Qaeda figure who survives bin Laden. Rogers said that he suspects that al-Zawahiri is hiding out in Pakistan.

"I hope they see this as an opportunity to be more cooperative. To be more open, to help us with other targets that we have in Pakistan that we're very interested in having apprehended and brought to justice,” he said. “Zawahiri is a great example...I believe he's in Pakistan.”