WASHINGTON - Releasing images of the abuse of the prisoners in US custody could damage Pakistans efforts to battle militants as well as increase the risks to American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, the top US commander in the region has told a federal judge. In court documents urging the judge to keep the pictures under wraps, Gen David Petraeus, head of the US Central Command, argued they would have a destabilising effect on Pakistan and other US partners in the battle against the Al-Qaeda militant network, according to the CNN. Newly released photos depicting abuse of detainees in US military custody in Afghanistan and Iraq would negatively affect the ongoing efforts by Pakistan to counter its internal extremist threat, wrote Petraeus. US allies in the region already struggle with their populations perceptions that they are merely instruments of the US govt and do not have their citizens best interests at heart, and releasing the images would likely deal a particularly hard blow to American efforts in those countries, he stated. President Barack Obama ordered government lawyers earlier this month to object to the court-ordered release of photos depicting the mistreatment of prisoners, reversing an earlier White House decision. The Pentagon had been set to release hundreds of photos in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ALCU) before Obamas orders. The ACLU lawyer had contended that the administrations decision makes a mockery of Obamas campaign promise of greater transparency and accountability and damages efforts to hold accountable those responsible for abusing the prisoners. ACLU Spokesman Jameel Jaffer said the arguments contained in Thursdays filing are no different than those the administration has offered before, and the group will file its response early next week. In his 13-page declaration, Petraeus told the court that a likely result of the photos release would be civil unrest via spontaneous demonstrations in Pakistans largest cities. Militant and extremist groups would use these images to foment anti-US sentiments and to incite demonstrators to conduct deliberate attacks against the US targets, as well as western Non-Government Organisations facilities and personnel, he said. Releasing the photos also could damage ties between Washington and the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, fuelling attacks by the Taliban -which once ruled most of the country - on allied supply lines and polling stations in Afghanistans upcoming election, he said. It is important to note that two sections of his statement were blacked out before the document was released by the Justice Department. The filing also included a statement from Gen Raymond Odierno, the US commander in Iraq, who warned that releasing the pictures could cause similar trouble for Iraqs fledgling government. Odierno went on to say, Incidents of spontaneous violence against the US forces, possibly including attacks from outraged Iraqi police or army members, are likely, and, This could weaken our partnership with the Iraqi security forces, decrease security and lead to more violence.