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Last month, Pakistan suffered its deadliest spasm of terrorist violence since 2014. Over a period of four days in February, militants struck all four Pakistani provinces and three major urban spaces. The bloodshed culminated on February 16 with an assault on a revered Sufi shrine that killed nearly 90 people. It was the deadliest terrorist attack on Pakistani soil since a school massacre in the city of Peshawar that killed 141 people, most of them students, in 2014.
This killing spree has dangerous implications, not only for Pakistan, which has enjoyed a relative respite from terrorist violence over the last two years, but also for the broader region. Pakistan’s already tense relationship with Afghanistan has been plunged into deep crisis, with conflict a very real possibility.
The attacks in February were claimed by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a Pakistani Taliban faction; Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a sectarian extremist group; and a local chapter of the Islamic State known as ISIS-Khorasan (