US President Barack Obama congratulated Pakistan Sunday on its parliamentary elections and said Washington was ready to work "as equal partners" with the government that emerges.
Nawaz Sharif, the apparent winner of Saturday's election, was in talks to form a new government in a stunning comeback for a former prime minister who was deposed in a 1999 coup and spent years in jail and exile.
Sharif, 63 has been less vocal against US drone strikes than his main rival Imran Khan, and is considered a pragmatist with whom Washington can work.
"My administration looks forward to continuing our cooperation with the Pakistani government that emerges from this election as equal partners in supporting a more stable, secure, and prosperous future for the people of Pakistan," Obama said in a statement.
He congratulated "the people of Pakistan on the successful completion of yesterday's parliamentary elections.
"The United States stands with all Pakistanis in welcoming this historic peaceful and transparent transfer of civilian power, which is a significant milestone in Pakistan's democratic progress," he said.
"By conducting competitive campaigns, freely exercising your democratic rights, and persevering despite intimidation by violent extremists, you have affirmed a commitment to democratic rule that will be critical to achieving peace and prosperity for all Pakistanis for years to come," he said.
Secretary of State John Kerry added his congratulations for the vote, which marks the first time that one elected civilian administration will hand power to another after a full term in office.
He also commended Pakistanis for standing "up resiliently to threats by violent extremists," referring to the Taliban violence that marred the election campaign with attacks killing more than 150 people, including 24 on polling day itself.
US lawmaker Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he was "impressed by the courage of the people of Pakistan, as well as those seeking to represent them, who have braved bomb blasts and other attacks in order to make their voices heard."
"I can only hope that the upcoming transition will be the first of many democratic transitions for Pakistan," he said.