I was determined to stay off politics and write about Mother Nature, punting on the river Thames and my 'bird cage'. No it is not about my coming out of the closet or about the play I wrote last week, but the real thing, the two huge bird cages that I have built around the rockeries in what I call a garden, but my referrers to as a jungle. But the 'birdcage' and the 'birds', no, not the curvy ones, but our feathered friends, will have to wait, as I must give you an update on two important meetings that I had this week, one with Dr. Shohab Suddle, IG, Police, Sindh and the other with our go getter, jet setter, City Nazim, Mustaffa Kamal. In two of my Straight Talk articles, 'United we must stand' and 'Old habits die hard', I had written about the need for our 'Awami Leaders' to set aside their egos and differences and stand united and prove that the time old question, 'Can a leopard change its spots?' to be wrong. Unfortunately, it would seem that old habits die hard and that in Pakistan, with glib talking, you can fool all the people all the time, with no questions asked. And for the spots, I think the best vanishing cream will give up in frustration, as the coalition didn't last long and once again, divided we still stand. But among all the gathering black clouds, there is a silver lining and it relates to two 'Straight Talking' gentlemen mentioned above, who are key players and manage two very important aspects of governance of this mega city of lights, which has been brutalized and mismanaged for so many years. My meeting with Dr. Suddle had been arranged by my friend, Aziz Shourwardy, who by profession is an engineer in PIA, but like me, has a passion for good governance and in demanding his rights. I had first met him in a CBC meeting back in 1996. At that time, Aziz was living in the Seaview Apartments, which were in mess, with lack of water, broken roads and serious security problems, daily robberies, something which was also common in many parts of DHA. Collectively, we had demanded the basic facilities on behalf of the residents, but unfortunately, no positive results were achieved, as the army officers were too arrogant to take our complaints seriously. It was only after the recent rains and the colossal damage to property and the negative fallout that followed, that the army had come to accept the fact, that they are not the 'Untouchables'. We finally managed to force the former CEO, CBC, the Board Member of the Residents Representative and the Chairman, Resident Ass. to resign. Zenat Ahmed, another go-getter young lady, has been appointed as the new CEO and the previous Board Member has been replaced by Aziz. Last week, he had arranged a visit to the recently completed Kogen Plant in DHA and this week, a meeting with the IG Police. Now here is a great example of government - community cooperation and working together to improve the quality of life of the citizens. The 15 member delegation of the residents explained to Dr. Suddle and his senior officers, who were also present in the meeting, their problems relating to security and the shortage of mobiles and police force to mange the CPLC Centre. I had heard a lot about Dr. Suddle, but this was my first interaction with him and I found him to be a blunt, to the point, no-nonsense man. He questioned his senior officers, which included Mr. Wajid Durrani, DIG Traffic, and Mr. Iqbal Mehmood, DIG (Operation), Sindh Police, Karachi, as to why they could not provide the necessary assistance to the residents. The IG was not prepared to listen to vague explanations and gave on the spot instructions and ordered that ten mobiles and the needed policemen should be provided to the Centre immediately. He then explained the problems that the police face and asked citizens to assist them in prosecuting the criminals. He also announced that the police has established a 24 hour 'Helpline' service through land line, 91500 or for a mobile phone 021-91500 and requested citizens to report traffic violations and other street crimes on this number. On the same day, Dr. Suddle appeared in Dawn TV's 30-30 program, hosted by Haider Waheed, with the outspoken Jameel Yousuf, former Chief, CPLC. In the program, Dr. Suddle acknowledged the short comings of the police and the lack of confidence the public has in them. But he also explained the reasons for it, which is of course the politicising of the law enforcing agencies and the judicial system by all governments. Unless these two very important pillars of true democracy are free from the executive and allowed to function independently and without interference, one can never hope to establish good governance, accountability or the rule of law. The same evening I received a phone call from Jameel and an SMS from Masood Naqi, informing me of a meeting at the Civic Centre with our own Superman, Kamal Mustaffa, who I had met through another Dawn's 30-30 program on Karachi's Traffic, hosted by young Waheed. At the end of the program, I had challenged the Nazim and asked him if he would 'walk the talk' and consider working on a traffic improvement proposal prepared by the citizens, which he immediately accepted. A committee of concerned citizens was formed and after some brain storming, Jameel prepared a comprehensive traffic improvement program for the city, which was presented to the Nazim in a meeting in Masood' office, who was Chairman, KITE at that time. As such, we had expected the meeting to be about our traffic proposal, but when we reached the Civic Centre, we were surprised to meet some of the heavy weights of industry, including S. M. Muneer and Hassseb Khan, former Chairman, PPMA. The Nazim welcomed us and then escorted us to a secured 'control center' and there he proudly showed us the latest, state of the art surveillance system, set up by Milestone Systems A/S, a leading Danish company in the field. The entire floor was taken up by TV monitors, manned by young ladies, showing live pictures from 35 cameras, covering different points on the two recently completed signal free corridors built by the city government. Mikael R. Jensen, the TP Manager, explained how the system worked, while the Nazim explained as to how it would help in controlling the traffic in the area and monitor accidents and street crimes. During our stay, we saw live pictures of an accident involving a scooter going the wrong way, a lady pedestrian being harassed and the usual sight of policemen taking bribes. Mobile cameras can also be used and could be most effective in monitoring protest rallies, riots, bombings, and disaster affected areas and in identifying suspects and trouble makers and exposing the 'hidden hands'. However, this system can only work successfully and effectively if the two 'key players' who manage this mega city, share this information and work together. But the million dollar question is, will the 'hidden hands' and the puppet masters, who some claim are part of our main body of governance, allow such a system to succeed? Once again, I have already exceeded my 'word limit' and have to end, so more on 'Managing Karachi' and my 'bird cage' next week. H Maker (email: trust@super.net.pk).