Throughout White Teeth Samad with the rest of the Iqbal’s are mistaken for Indian and Pakistani

. At no time, however, are they identified by strangers as Bangladeshi—their actual ethnic heritage. This recurring scene is looked at as a trifle to everyone besides the Iqbal’s. Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh are geographically close and culturally “in the same ballpark” as Samad quips to Poppy Burt-Jones but they have very distinct cultural identities and histories that are deeply complex and intermingled. One of the chief distinctions made among these three countries is religion. Pakistan and Bangladesh both have an Islamic majority: Bangladesh at 89.7 percent (BANBEIS) and 97 percent in Pakistan (Pew). The majority of Muslims in both countries are Sunnis. In India, however, the religious majority belongs to Hindus. India has, by far, the largest population of Hindus in the world with over 900 million Hindus—80.5 percent of their population (Indian Census). Religion is not where these countries differences begin or end, though. Pakistan and Bangladesh, both Islamic countries, have a long history together and were once part of the same state. The nation of Bengal was the forerunner of modern day Bangladesh. Bengal existed, geographically, in what is, today, India and Bangladesh. The state of Bengal was ruled, independent of India and Pakistan until 1857. When the Sepoy Mutiny—also known as the Indian Rebellion of 1857— failed, power was consolidated in the region under the British crown. Bengal remained independent of India under colonial rule; however, locus of power for both countries was in Britain. In 1947, with the exit of the British Empire, Bengal was partitioned along religious boundaries to create East Bengal (East Pakistan) with the western, Hindu, portion allotted to India. East Bengal (East Pakistan) and The Republic of Pakistan in the west became one state. However, India lay between East Bengal and The Republic of Pakistan. The power of this new state of Pakistan and the majority of its citizens were located in the Republic of Pakistan in the west. Dissidence between these two states grew until their separation in 1972, when the modern state of Bangladesh was created after the Bangladesh Liberation War. Today, what separate these three countries most are their economies. Bangladesh remains a developing country (UNFPA). The majority of their earnings on exports come from the textile industry (Buerk). Pakistan is also a developing country but is shifting from an agricultural-based economy to a service-oriented economy. India, the largest of the three countries, has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. It has a service-based economy and a free-market system (Economic Survey of India). These are only a few of the differences between Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India. The three countries are “in the same ballpark” but have distinct cultural differences that trace back millennia. In White Teeth, when people misidentify the Iqbal’s as Indian or Pakistan the problem isn’t simply that they can’t visually discern between the three ethnic groups, it’s that they’re ignorant of the fact that there even is a distinction between the three countries or that all three exist even though Britain has a long, complex, and shameful history with these countries. However, Zadie Smith also uses this equivocation to blur the lines of racial identity. Alsana even mentions to Samad that if you trace the ancestry of Bangladeshis back far enough most of them would find Caucasian ancestry. She uses this to rebukes Samad’s idea that their children need to go back to Bangladesh to achieve a cultural purification.