Perched in lofty mountains, the scenic city of Muzaffarabad, capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) is festooned with billboards, banners, and pictures of leaders and candidates.

The election fever has taken over the region, which is going to elect regional assembly on July 25.

Over 3.2 million voters will elect a 53-member assembly for a five-year term. Out of 53 seats, 45 are general, while eight are reserved for women, technocrats, and religious scholars.

The city located at the confluence of Neelam and Jhelum rivers looks in a celebration mood, with enthusiastic activists of different political parties roaming around with flags and banners to exhibit their prowess.

There is a festive look at the city's famous Azaadi Chowk (freedom roundabout) - a replica of historic Lal Chowk (Red Square) located 125 kilometers (77 miles) away across the Line of Control (LoC) in IIOJK.

Life-size billboards, posters, and banners have also overtaken the capital's main Chattar chowk near the parliament building.

Candidates backed by their party leaders in AJK are holding huge public rallies and corner meetings, simply defying the coronavirus restrictions.

The National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) had recommended postponement of polls till September. But the Election Commission after consulting political parties rejected the recommendation but called for strict observation of COVID-19 protocols.

In a last-ditch effort to woo the voters, candidates and their supporters are also going door-to-door with new promises.

A tough contest is expected between PTI and the PML(N) in AJK. The PTI, however, seems to have brighter chances to form the government, according to local surveys and political estimates.

Muzzaferabad, which has nine seats out of 45 general seats, is considered a decisive battlefield to form the government.

It is pertinent to note that PTI could secure only two seats in the 2016 elections.