Anger that Osama bin Laden was living in Pakistan is prompting members of Congress -- including Florida's Vern Buchanan and Allen West -- to call for freezing aid to the country. But Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, says it would be the wrong move.
"They are an imperfect partner, but they are a partner nonetheless," the Miami Republican said in an interview. "Were we to lose the cooperation of Pakistan, it would endanger our troops in Afghanistan."
She noted that although the Pakistani government "is no Jeffersonian democracy, think of what the alternative would be....they are just surrounded by evil forces."
Ros-Lehtinen said she believes U.S. officials are portraying Pakistan as uninvolved in the bid Laden capture because a suggestion of cooperation could topple the Pakistani government.
"Were they to say that they let a U.S. military operation take place in their sovereign country ... it might produce a coup d'etat," she said. "They have so many extremist elements and radical elements that they can't afford to say they cooperate with the U.S. in any way....I think it would jeopardize the government's ability to stay in power."
She noted that she and top committee Democrat Rep. Howard Berman visited Pakistan last year and "it was such a tense series of meetings where they have to on the one hand say that they are cooperating with the United States.. but then for their domestic consumption they have to have a hands off attitude and anti-US sentiment."