Are we now, in the era of the government of the liberal, democratic and people-oriented PPP-Z, witnessing the true face of 21st century Pakistan? Is this true face illuminated in the events that took place in Gojra at the start of the month, the recent antics of a faction of the black-coated lawyers of Lahore, and the on-going issue of that legal abomination, the NRO? It would seem that the 'best revenge' syndrome dominates. The incident at Gojra is neither surprising nor is it unusual. It was different from the many previous such incidents, instigated by the blasphemy laws, in that the bigoted inspired mob this time around actually took it upon themselves to burn alive seven fellow citizens, members of the despised minorities. Details have of course been highlighted in the international media and have but contributed to the universal perception that Pakistan is a violent country, beset by bigotry and intolerance, in which terrorism is the order of the day. In last year's listing by the Minority Rights Group International Pakistan was the world's top country as regards major increases in threats to minorities; and it was listed 7th out of 10 on the list of the most dangerous countries for minorities. Gojra-like incidents will continue, may even increase with the general lawlessness that besets the land, until and unless government and judiciary act to amend the highly manipulative blasphemy laws. Section 295-A deals with malicious and deliberate acts "intended to outrage religious feelings of any class" and is punishable by imprisonment up to 10 years (dating back to 1927). Fairly harmless; not so Section 295-B (1982), President General Ziaul Haq's first opus which pertains to defilement of the Quran and is punishable with imprisonment for life; and certainly not so Section 295-C, also attributable to Ziaul Haq and his Junejo government (1986), which involves remarks derogatory to the Prophet of Islam and carries the death penalty or life imprisonment. Sections B and C have been used as personal or political instruments of revenge or acquisition by the crooked and criminal, to be rid of an irritant or to grab wanted property or land, or merely to propagate bigotry and promote terrorism. The laws must be amended so that they cannot be used indiscriminately in such manner, so that the minorities are not constantly threatened by terrorism. What can one say about the lawyers of Lahore, the heroic black coats, who since the movement was launched in March 2007 have indulged in sporadic acts of violence against those not in their camp - be they fellow professionals or politicians? On each occasion they have got away with their lawless and disgraceful behaviour, so thus the recent events when they attacked members of the police force and the media. Will the super-active courts not move against such terrorist-like activities? In the Global Peace Index for 2009, Pakistan is listed 137th out of 144 countries which indicated that its political instability is high, as its internal conflicts and violent crimes. The banned militant sectarian outfits which are allowed to operate in places such as Gojra and the some members of the legal community who take the law into their own hands are not helping lighten the dark perception of this country held by all. And neither are such judgements as that which was handed down by the highest court of the land on July 31 when it declined to rule on the abominable NRO which has granted amnesty to a host of politicians, bureaucrats and political workers accused of mass corruption, embezzlement, money-laundering, terrorism and even murder. Corruption, as opposed to the November 2007 Musharraf emergency, was given a clean slate and tossed into Parliament. It was, of course, obvious from the remarks of the Chief Justice of Pakistan during the hearings of the matter involving the emergency, that he had no intentions of upsetting the current political applecart. Invalidated were all ordinances issued during the emergency period that pertained to the judiciary, but not invalidated were 37 other ordinances. Also, in somewhat contradictory manner, though the appointment of Abdul Hameed Dogar as CJP in November 2007 was declared unconstitutional and invalid "all administrative or financial acts performed by him or of any oath made before him" were validated. Thus was President Asif Ali Zardari once again shielded - we are not yet getting rid of the 'law of necessity' despite the fact that the principle of the welfare of the people was cited. The writer is a freelance columnist E-mail: