Operation Rad-ul-Fassad does not have the same level of public visibility that Operation Zarb-e-Azb did; considering the different nature of the two military operations, that is not surprising in the least. Zarb-e-Azb was full-blown military assault where daily updates of the military’s exploits from the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) were expected, the new operation is focused more on counter-terrorism in the urban environment, where such exposure to the public eye is limited.

While keeping this in mind, the military must also take care to ensure that Rad-ul-Fassad does not fall from the national narrative and become another in the line of countless initiatives that failed to live up to their billing. The constant interaction with the public during Zarb-e-Azb maintained a sense of action and purpose, which constantly reminded the people that the military was targeting religious extremism, and what the government’s priorities are. This sense of purpose is what fed back into the electorate and eventually the politicians, accounting for much of the positive legislative work undertaken by the government. Radd-ul-Fassad – launched with much ado – has drifted in delivering this constant message.

However, it does seem that the military may be addressing this problem. Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Sunday, called every Pakistani a “soldier in Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad” as ISPR released a public service video message urging all citizens to be vigilant against terrorist activities. The video itself shows a man renting a van without providing proper documentation, who then goes on to use the van in a suicide attack. It urges the public to maintain proper records and not to take shortcuts when it comes to official documentation requirements.

This is a positive initiative that must be carried further. Improper documentation and maintenance of records is one of the biggest hurdles faced by law enforcement, and delivering a message directly to the public asking them to fix the problem is exactly what is needed. The public needs to feel like it is a part of the counter-terrorism movement and direct connection with the public can only help the military’s efforts.

Such messages, which encourage proper practices, build a direct relationship between the military, law enforcement and the public, and maintain the profile of Rad-ul-Fassad are useful and must be encouraged. This initiative needs to be extended beyond the ISPR website to television and radio programmes so that it reaches the maximum amount of people. A counter-terrorism operation cannot be successful without the public’s support.