After 31 years, the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Election Commission (AJ&K EC) will hold local government elections in the month of September on party basis. This was announced by the Chief Election Commissioner CEC Justice Retd Abdul Rasheed Sulehria on Tuesday along with AJ&K EC members Farooq Niaz and Farhat Ali Mir while addressing the media. “The apex court of AJ&K has given us a deadline to conduct polls before October 12, 2022 however, we are ready to conduct them in the month of September this year,” said CEC Justice Retd Sulehria. Senior Member AJ&K EC Farooq Niaz said that all arrangements have been completed to ensure impartial local bodies polls aimed at shifting the power to the people at the grassroots level. “Real beauty of democracy lies in the local government system where people have access at Union Council level to get their civic problems solved.” “We are also supporting giving funds according to the population at all UCs to conduct these elections in a peaceful environment.” Member AJ&K EC Farhat Ali Mir said that the first phase for the arrangements was delimitation which has been completed on time while the second phase was the completion of voter lists, and the task has already been achieved before the deadline. He added that more than Rs900 million would be spent on the elections and in this connection, the EC has received Rs300 million so far. Mir further said to ensure transparent elections, deputy commissioners in all ten districts of AJ&K will work as focal persons of the Election Commission. More than 5,192 polling stations have been established while in general elections there were only 5,123 polling stations, the election commission official said. The official added that at the returning officers (ROs) level, election preparations have been completed. To a question, Mir said that there is no change in the local government election procedure and they will be conducted on the same pattern as the 1991 local body polls. To another question regarding the educational qualification for the candidates, the EC official said that matriculation is mandatory while the age should be above 25 years. To ensure peaceful elections, deployment of additional troops of Frontier Constabulary, FC and Rangers will be discussed with the federal government, Mir concluded.