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A Balochistan Awami Party rally in Qilla Abdullah.
A Balochistan Awami Party rally in Qilla Abdullah.

A Toyota hatchback bearing a banner of the newly formed Balochistan Awami Party drives through a market in this busy town in Balochistan’s Qilla Abdullah district close to the border with Afghanistan, its loudspeakers exhorting people to cast their vote for the new political outfit.

The scene provides one of the few moments of energy in what locals say is a generally lacklustre election campaign in the district, part of what is known as the province’s Pakhtun belt.

Named after tribal leader Sardar Abdullah Khan Achakzai, Qilla Abdullah, according to Census 2017, is among 11 of 34 districts in the province where the Pakhtuns are in a majority and has a population of more than 757,000, of which 75 per cent is rural. It is also, as per a recent UNDP human development report, the poorest district in Pakistan with dire health and literary indicators.

Read more about how Balochistan's Pashtuns see the election here.