A couple of first-half goals from Issam Jemaa put the Carthage Eagles in control at the 60,000-seat National Stadium before Malawi's Hellings Mwakasungula was sent off.
But Chiukepo Msowoya reduced arrears in first-half stoppage time of this Group K clash, before Esau Kanyenda slotted home a penalty eight minutes from time to earn Malawi a share of the points.
It was an unexpected point for the Central African country whose last visit to Tunisia ended in a 7-0 drubbing.
Tunisia, expected to come out on top in a mini-league that includes Botswana, Togo and Chad, have made a disappointing start under new French coach Bertrand Marchand, collecing only four of a possible nine points.
The North Africans, who hosted and won the 2004 CAF Africa Cup of Nations, lost at home to Botswana in the opening round before recovering to defeat Chad in N'Djamena. They are in the only pool offering two finals places.
Botswana, the highest ranked country in Africa never to play at the biennial tournament, triumphed 2-1 at home to Togo and have 10 points followed by Tunisia (four), Malawi (three), Togo (two) and Chad (one).
Unmarked Sainey Nyassi headed the opener on 10 minutes and Momodou Ceesay punished a poor Hartman Toromba clearance soon after to put the home team in command. Ousman Jallow snatched the third Gambia goal before Wilko Risser grabbed a consolation for Namimbia in the final minute.