LONDON, May 13 (UPI) -- The 50 million people in Pakistan who voted Saturday cast votes in opposition of terrorism and intimidation, the British government said.
Two-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif claimed victory after unofficial results indicated his Pakistan Muslim League-N Party won weekend parliamentary elections with 125 of the 275 seats elected directly to the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament.
The election was marred by widespread violence. At least 24 people were killed in violence Election Day. Despite the violence, the elections marked the first democratic transfer of power since Pakistan gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1947.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the 50 million people who voted Saturday cast their ballots for freedom.
"They made a strong statement about the future they want for their country, based on accountable, democratic government," he said in a statement. "They clearly rejected terrorist violence and intimidation."
Sharif was ousted during his second term in 1999 in a military coup led by Pervez Musharraf.
Foreign policy chief for the European Union Catherine Ashton praised Pakistani constituents and political leaders for acting responsibly during the elections.
"The EU is a close partner to Pakistan," she said in a statement. "I look forward to continue our strong partnership in support of Pakistan's democratic, economic and social development."