One element of friendship is one that can stand the test of time. But in addition, friendship should be somewhat fluid. As we grow and change, our interests, goals, and desires change. It would not be unreasonable to assume that our friends and friendships would change as a result. A friend is also one who does not necessarily accept us for who we are, but pushes us to be a better version of who we are. In other words aids us in becoming who we are meant to be.

The memory is still fresh in my mind when I entered the classroom of new school for the first time. I knew none and forgot to bring lunch to school. I was hungry so one of the classmates came and shared her lunch with me. I realized that day that it all begins with sharing and ends with helping each other rise against all odds. This is what friendship means to me and friends are tested in tough times.

I met a Chinese girl at a local restaurant in Islamabad few days ago and she greeted me like an old friend. “We are Like brothers and sisters,” she said. China and Pakistan are like best friends which made me think about more than six decades long Pak-Sino friendship. This friendship have been evolved during all these years.

Pakistan and China relationship began in 1950 when Pakistan was among the first countries to establish relations with the Republic of China on Taiwan and recognize the PRC. Following the 1962 Sino-Indian War, both countries placed considerable importance on the maintenance of a extremely close and supportive relationship. Since then, the two countries have regularly exchanged high-level visits resulting in a variety of agreements both development and educational. China has provided economic, military and technical assistance to Pakistan and each considers the other a close strategic ally.

China has become Pakistan’s largest supplier of arms and its third-largest trading partner. Recently, both nations have decided to cooperate in improving Pakistan's civilian nuclear program. A favorable relation with China is a pillar of Pakistan's foreign policy. China supported Pakistan's opposition to the Soviet Union's intervention in Afghanistan and is perceived by Pakistan as a regional counterweight to India and the United States. China and Pakistan also share close military relations, with China supplying a range of modern armaments to the Pakistani defense forces. China supports Pakistan's stance on Kashmir while Pakistan supports China on the issues of Xinjiang, Tibet, and Taiwan. Lately, military cooperation has deepened with joint projects producing armaments ranging from fighter jets to guided missile frigates.

China Pakistan Economic Corridor is a one-of-a-kind project. Without any doubt CPEC will boost the economy of Pakistan and will help us in becoming the Asian Tiger. But despite promoting CPEC, China has also come forward as a friend in need and extend their support to provide the people of Pakistan the mode of transportation meeting international standards.

Now talking further about the CPEC, the $46 billion worth CPEC consists of various projects under construction and out of that, $11 billion (25%) of the money is for port, road and railway linkages between Pakistan and China are going to be financed by heavily-subsidized concessionary loans that will be dispersed to the Government of Pakistan by the Exim Bank of China, China Development Bank, and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. The economic link will stretch 2,700 kilometers from Gwadar on the Arabian Sea to the Khunjerab Pass at the China-Pakistan border in the Karakorams.

Nearly $33 billion (75%) is planned to be invested to help alleviate Pakistan's chronic energy shortage, which most certainly amounts to over 4,500 MW and have harmed the economy of Pakistan by shedding an estimated 2-2.5% off Pakistan's annual Gross Domestic Product. Under the agreement signed by the leaders of both China and at a Beijing summit recently, $15.5 billion worth of coal, wind, solar and hydro energy projects are expected to be operational by 2017 and add 10,400 megawatts of energy to the national grid. An additional 6,120 megawatts will be added to the national grid at a cost of $18.2 billion by 2021.

This is one of those testing times when China has come forward to help its Pakistani brothers by boosting their economy and CPEC comes as the biggest opportunity that has come Pakistan’s way in the past decades and the PML-N leadership deserves great admiration for this mega project which is like a breath of fresh air in the testing times of motherland.

It has been predicted by the officials that CPEC will create more or less 700,000 direct jobs between 2015 and 2030, and is eventually going to add 2 to 2.5 percentage points to the country's annual economic growth. In case, all the planned projects are implemented as per plan, then the value of those projects would be equal to all foreign direct investment (FDI) in Pakistan since 1970, and would be equivalent to 17% of Pakistan's 2015 Gross Domestic Product. It is going to boost the economy of Pakistan making it stand on stable economic footing.

The province of the Punjab possesses great importance in making CPEC a huge success, even if it benefits other provinces more than Punjab as it occupies the central position in the economic geography of Pakistan. The total area of the Punjab is around 205,344 square km or 26 percent land area of Pakistan and with a population exceeding 82 million, approximately 56% of the country’s total population. The province connects well with all three provinces in addition to Azad Kashmir, the strategic strong-hold of the Federation of Pakistan. In all Eastern, Western, and Central Routes, Punjab does not get the lion’s share. However, the Punjab has the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) i.e., 57 per cent in the economy of Pakistan or $104 billion by 2011, which is steadily growing. The literacy rate of the Punjab is 60 percent at present. There are six districts in the Punjab that have above 70 percent literacy rate, making a difference to overall 55 percent literacy of the country.

In addition to the facts stated above, it is Balochistan that could get up to 43 percent share, which is justifiable and natural as the province is 43 percent of the total land area of Pakistan. This also reflects in the CPEC route alignment. In case of any developmental and industrial project, Punjab possesses best possibilities and opportunities and it could play the central role in the construction of all mega-projects under the CPEC. The government and people of Punjab are in favor of every project that benefits the homeland in short and long term regardless of all regional differences. A reasonable share of the CPEC to the Punjab would further enhance its GDP contribution to the overall economy of Pakistan.

Pakistan Army has also extended its support to the government of Pakistan for the speedy completion of the project which is a milestone in Pak-China friendship. Since cements sales are considered barometer of development activity, the construction of this project is also proving to be very beneficial resulting in generation of economic activities as indicated by the rising demand of the domestic cement in the country. It was up 8% year over year in 2014-15.

It is encouraging to know that Ruchir Sharma, the head of Morgan Stanley’s emerging markets, in his writing piece titled Bucking Stagnation elsewhere, the quiet Rise of South Asia particularly has mentioned CPEC as very positive for Pakistan. Pakistan’s economy is growing more than twice as fast as emerging markets other than India and China according to his assessment.

In conclusion, if the one who steps forward to help in need is a friend then I can proudly say that China is a great friend to Pakistan. China Pakistan Economic Corridor aka CPEC is a great effort by the committed leadership of PML-N that will lead towards prosperity by attracting greater investment and rapid industrialization in Pakistan. Timely completion without any delays and successful implementation of this project can make it a game-changer for the people of Pakistan in terms of new economic opportunities leading to higher incomes thus raising the living standards for ordinary Pakistanis. It will be in the best interest of all of them to set all of their differences aside and work for its successful implementation. In this hour of need China has come forward with a warm shoulder and helped its Pakistani brothers to bring technological advancement in socio-economic sectors to give economic boost like other developed nations including neighboring countries like India. China has strengthened my belief that “a friend in need is a friend indeed.”