WARSAW, NOV. 11 -- Six years after Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski ordered the suppression of the communist world's first independent trade unions, he has emerged as the strongest non-Soviet ally of Mikhail Gorbachev and his reformist political and economic policies.

The 64-year-old general, the youngest of Eastern Europe's aging cast of leaders, is the only Warsaw Pact head of state who has clearly linked his political fortunes to those of Gorbachev, diplomats and other political analysts say.

Jaruzelski has insisted in speeches that Gorbachev's policies be embraced by the rest of the communist world and launched a new reform program in Poland based on the market-oriented economic principles and modest political liberalization sanctioned by the Kremlin.

In return, Gorbachev has made it clear that Jaruzelski ranks first among the six communist party leaders who gather with him at summit meetings of the Warsaw Pact and Comecon. At the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the Soviet revolution in Moscow last week, Jaruzelski was the first pact leader to deliver a public speech and the first to meet privately with Gorbachev.

In an interview here today, Jaruzelski said that Warsaw's relations with Moscow "have never been better during the past 40 years." Poland, he added, was pursuing a course "in many ways identical" to that of the Soviet Union.

The transformation of the reserved general in dark glasses, from crusher of reform to its advocate, strikes some Poles as superficial opportunism. "Jaruzelski is a prisoner of his history," argued opposition activist Adam Michnik. "He cannot introduce glasnost {or openness} in Poland because he cannot undo his introduction of martial law."

Jaruzelski's supporters say, however, that his support for Gorbachev reflects a commitment to reform of socialism that has guided him since he took power in September 1981. The reforms in the Soviet Union, aides say, have allowed Jaruzelski to take liberalizing steps he could not previously afford -- and thereby made him Gorbachev's natural ally.

Although he has none of the style of Gorbachev, Jaruzelski has gained some grudging respect from Poles for his lack of pretension and modest lifestyle. He often dresses in relatively coarse Polish suits, rather than a uniform, and lives with his wife in a small house in southern Warsaw.

In public, Jaruzelski usually appears stiff and uncomfortable, his rigid military posture and soft voice baleful in front of crowds. In person, however, he conveys a severe gentility and an ironic sense of humor occasionally directed at himself. Opposition intellectuals who have met with him say Jaruzelski is well read in Polish literature and has sophisticated appreciation of national culture.

Both supporters and critics acknowledge that Jaruzelski has shown talent throughout his career for surviving among the apparatchiks and overseers of Poland's dominant neighbor. Born to a family of gentry in eastern Poland, he was deported to Siberia by invading Soviet troops in World War II but managed to survive and return to his country as a soldier in a Soviet-formed Polish army.

After the war, Jaruzelski embarked on a military career that led to the post of defense minister in 1968. Polish authorities narrowly averted a Soviet military invasion to suppress Solidarity in December 1980. Four months later, Jaruzelski took over and orchestrated plans for outlawing Solidarity and declaring martial law in December 1981.

Despite his recent reforms, the general has yet to gain widespread popularity. A recent government poll measuring Poles' respect for leaders showed that Jaruzelski not only ranked far below Polish-born Pope John Paul II, but behind Gorbachev as well.