After 31 years, local government elections began on Sunday in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) with the first phase of polling being concluded in the Muzaffarabad division. The local government polls are being conducted in three phases across the state due to the non-provision of additional security personnel from the federal government. The first phase concluded on Sunday in the Muzaffarabad division from 8am to 5pm without any break. Phase two of the LG polls will be conducted in the Poonch division on December 3, and phase three in the Mirpur division on December 8. According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), in the first phase, polls were held in three districts of the Muzaffarabad division on Sunday. Earlier, preparations for the elections were completed in Muzaffarabad, Neelam and Jhelum Valley districts. The ECP secretary had said that 4,500 men from the Azad Kashmir Police will perform security duties in the Muzaffarabad division. A total of 2,716 candidates were competing in the Muzaffarabad division, including 31 women directly contesting elections. The 695,049 voters from the Muzaffarabad division will elect 595 councilors through vote slips. There are 411,072 voters in the Muzaffarabad district, 154,832 in the Jhelum valley district and 129,145 in the Neelum valley Among the political parties, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) issued the most tickets to its candidates at 575, while the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was in second place with 545 and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in third with 465. There are also 900 independent candidates trying their luck in the local body elections. As many as 1,314 polling stations and 1,884 polling booths were set up for local body elections in the Muzaffarabad division. There were 6,966 officials including presiding officers and polling officers performing election duties.