Will martial law relax or tighten its grip on Poland?
Apart from the small military posts at major official buildings or vehicle checks on the outskirts of the city, martial law is becoming less visible. At least this appears true of Warsaw to which foreign reporters are confined. With such intensely cold nights not encouraging Poles to venture out late, the emergency and the 11:00 p.m. curfew that accompanies it, have become less a physical restriction than an emotional experience.
Still, people are jarred every time they pick up a telephone here and hear the repetitive monotone warning that the call is being ''controlled.'' Another strong reminder of martial law are the male television newcasters in their well-tailored Army uniforms.
Whether, in fact, the grip of martial law will be either tightened or further relaxed could be answered very soon. This week could provide some useful pointers.
The Central Committee is scheduled to meet Feb. 24 and Feb. 25. for the first time since the Polish Communist Party's ruling role was superseded by the Army when martial law was declared Dec. 13.
Immediately afterwards, parliament will meet for a two-day session, Feb. 26 and 27.
The episcopate of the Roman Catholic Church is meeting tomorrow for the first time since the primate, Archbishop Jozef Glemp, returned from lengthy consultations with the Pope in Rome.
The meetings of both the Communist Party and the church will be largely concerned with the question of how and when the present military authority will step aside and return Poland to civilian rule.
It is an issue on which the Communist Party is bitterly divided since lifting martial law will be inseparable from decisions about the future of the reform movement.
Perhaps an even more significant clue to the continuation of martial law will be the visit to Moscow early next month by Polish head of state Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski.
It is common for East European leaders to visit the Kremlin either on the eve of important decision-making party meetings or, alternatively, to retreat on what has taken place.
Right now there is plenty of rumor, but no reliable information. But it might be assumed that Jaruzelski would want, primarily, to inform his Soviet allies first hand of the outlook for stabilizing the situation here. At least to the point where a lifting of martial law -- with its necessary pre-condition of a thoroughly restored party authority -- becomes feasible.
Jaruzelski still stands high in the Kremlin's eyes. It was noted, for example , that in a recent interview with Japanese journalists, Soviet Prime Minister N. A. Tikhonov went out of his way to express ''(our) high appreciation'' of the general's attitude on relations with the Soviet Union.
By contrast, a sharp attack on Solidarity leader Lech Walesa by the official Polish news agency has underlined the clash of different opinions likely to be heard at this week's meeting of the Polish Communist Party's Central Committee.
The important thing, according to those concerned with the return to the ''renewal'' process, including the rebirth of the unions, ended by the emergency , is that the disagreements now come out into the open.
The attack on Walesa was in an unsigned article circulated by the official agency in which he was bracketed with its ''anticommunist'' radicals with responsibility for the critical situation in early December which, the government asserts, left it ''no alternative'' but to resort to martial law.
The union rank and file could not be blamed, the article said, for bringing the country to the brink of civil war. Prime responsibility lay with its leaders and their advisers from the antisocialist groups.
''Regrettably,'' it went on, ''this applies also to Walesa who provided the front for the anticommunist crusade, who objectively deserted the interests of the working class and thus contributed to undermining the Polish raison d'etat (reason of state).''
Poland's ''reason of state'' lies in its Constitution, committing it to the Soviet and East bloc alliances and to a communist society in which the Communist Party exerts the single leading political role.
While it need not be taken as a reflection of the thinking of the Jaruzelski government it does represent the first direct attack on Walesa since martial law was declared.
But without doubt, according to the informed source, it does represent a typical move by those who would like to exclude Walesa from any negotiations started up, for example, on the basis of the draft just issued for public debate on the future of the unions.
It is one indication of the unresolved struggle in the top party leadership and explains the moderates' fears that the hardline faction can still prove strong enough to thwart the effort credited to General Jaruzelski to establish a dominant and credible broad centrist position in the party on which the resumption of reform can be founded.
The moderates' view is that only that kind of lead that can open doors to a new line of agreement between party and church leaderships in which ordinary Poles will see a way out of their present distress.
Meanwhile the government is making a widespread appeal to patriotism. For example, the 40th anniversary of the Polish Home Army, AK, until now usually written off as a fighting force and maligned as more ''anti-Soviet'' and opposed to ''socialism'' than fighting the Germans, was marked in a way not previously seen here.
Stories appeared in the press with a catalogue of its 10,000 armed actions and the ''remarkable contribution'' of its 350,000 soldiers to resistance to the Nazi occupation.
Previously, said one newspaper, AK was either harshly condemned or relegated to silence. Another writer drew an analogy. People were wrongly persecuted, he said, simply for belonging to AK. The same mistake must not be made with Solidarity.
Poles are responding to their present plight by resorting, typically, to the use of jokes to cheer them. One joke going the rounds tells of a friend informing a colleague that foreign travel will soon be allowed again. Delighted, the colleague asks the conditions. Two, says the friend: (1) the passport applicant must be 80; (2) he or she must have the consent of both parents.