THE courageous decision by the High Court of Lahore to overturn a blasphemy conviction and death sentence on two Pakistani Christians - one of them just 14 years of age - predictably has aroused the ire of the Muslim community. The ruling will enhance the judiciary's international reputation, although Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has got into trouble at home for mentioning it. But that is of less importance than the regard in which it is held within Pakistan. What the West and the non-Muslim world assumes about the guilt or otherwise of two Christians is just as likely to be coloured by prejudice as the assumptions of local Muslims. But the judges' willingness to risk the wrath of the crowd and the clergy to find as they did suggests both integrity and basic humanity. Whatever the truth of the allegations, it would have been inhumane, though not necessarily against either Pakistani secular or religious law, to have sent a 14-year-old to the gallows. The court's establishment of their innocence, however, does not guarantee the two Christians' safety. A third defendant has already been the victim of an extra-judicial execution by gunmen. The fury whipped up over the case ensures the two will have to spend the rest of their lives in hiding, unless the Muslim authorities can bring themselves to recognise the verdict of the secular courts is valid. It would show Islam can be merciful as well as just if it were prepared to give the two men the benefit of the doubt.