How many attempts have been made on your life?

Two major attempts. One was a fight between my soldiers and Taliban. The second was an attempt to assassinate me in my campaign office. But almost every two months I get a letter from our security department warning me of death threats.

You also get marriage proposals. Which do you get more of?

There’s a balance between the two, but I think people lose hope after trying to convince me to marry and then become my opponents. So I need to be careful about rejecting them.

As a newborn, you were left outside to die. When you survived, your mother took you in. Did you talk to her about that?

I always had sympathy for her, because as a woman in Afghanistan, she didn’t want to deliver a girl. She knew girls did not receive enough care and love from the father and the family. She told me she thought the way to give me another life was for me to die. But I think after that day she understood that I have the determination to face the problems of this world.

In your new book,The Favored Daughter, you say your father spoke to you only once—to tell you to go away. Why did you admire him?

I admire my father for being a hardworking, passionate, very tough parliamentarian fighting for his people’s rights. As a husband, as a father, he didn’t accomplish his responsibilities very well. Would I accept him if he hadn’t been killed when I was 4? I’m not sure.

Is democracy really possible in Afghanistan?

Afghanistan is a traditional country. But within that tradition there have always been democratic institutions like local councils. If we give people a voice, they will go for it. Even in the few elections we had, with all the security challenges in areas like Helmand and Kandahar, people went to the polling stations minutes after the Taliban rocket attacks. What they need is mobilization and support.

Should Nato troops still be there?

The presence of the troops in Afghanistan is a need, not an option. Withdrawal is also a need, but it should be carried out to ensure that we go forward. Proper withdrawal means that Afghan armed forces are strong, that the Afghan government delivers good govt.

How long do you think it will take to get the Afghan forces ready to take over security?

It was only in 2008 that the international community really started to support Afghan forces. We need to make sure that they’re being given the required equipment, the required training. It takes time. Washing your hands and saying that we are done in Afghanistan is not going to help.

Does the Taliban have a place in Afghanistan’s government?

First, there are questions that need to be answered: What are the issues that we will compromise on? Does the Taliban really want to share power, or do they want to rule the country? I think we need to talk to them from a position of power. We were elected.

Do you think Pakistan is aiding the Taliban?

There is no question that Pakistan is supporting Taliban. The question is whether the civilian leaders are involved.

Are you going to run for President?

If I’m alive in three years. In Afghanistan, you never know.                                                         –Time