News Summary: Afghan burqa faces challenges

CHALLENGES: The homespun Afghan burqa is under siege. Cut-price competition from China and Western influences are leading urban women to exchange the full-body cloak for a simple headscarf.

URBAN DECLINE: In Kabul clothing sellers say demand for burqas is declining as young women go to school and take office jobs — pursuits that were impossible during the five years that the Taliban ran the country.

IMPORTS: Merchants say they are selling more from China. The traditional burqa is sewn from cloth produced in Afghanistan. Chinese burqas are cheaper. They come pre-embroidered, leaving only the cap and veil to Afghan seamstresses.